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Tyrannosaurus Wrecks

It wasn't a very good dinosaur in the first place and I knew it. I was in 4th grade class when the teacher asked us to make a model out of clay, paper and markers. I probably should have used a wire skeleton because that much clay is top-heavy and Godzilla was sagging noticeably. His ferocious roar wasn't convincing, either, and looked more like a confused grimace, as well. I really wasn't pleased with the outcome, but I had done it without help and I was proud enough to take it home.

I was lucky enough to go home the same way as Mike Perelli, someone in my grade, but who didn't have to make a model like I did. Since his hands were free, he took this opportunity to taunt my work. Because he could see that I wasn't going to fight back, I was an easy target. Not only was my project taking two hands to carry; but I was short, chubby, wearing thick lenses, couldn't hear very well and I wasn't fast enough to run away. I wasn't just projecting "Easy Target"; I had billboard advertisements, neon lights, TV promos, movie newsreels and Sunday supplement coupons. Even if you weren't a bully, you had to take a shot at me.

Mike started to tease the structure of the skyscraper that Godzilla was terrorizing. It, too, was sagging, but that was because its foundation, instead of steel and concrete (or even Elmer's glue) was Scotch tape and it wasn't completely rectangular. Godzilla towered (more likely swayed) near it, threatening to swipe it with a meaty paw, wreak havoc with his mighty tail or simply fall on it.

As I said, Mike started to poke fun at how the building defied the laws of physics. He criticized Godzilla's color, which was a sickly mint green color, instead of the hard scaly, lava-toughened skin that he should have had. Instead of a rough, bumpy hide that could deflect meteors or missiles, he had huge uneven craters that looked like thumbprints. Some parts were done well, like his front arms, but since these looked wimpy on a real dinosaur, they weren't doing me any favors. No radioactive green fire spouted from his mouth and no one ran in terror from his footsteps.

Mike continued to berate me and I ignored him with only a slight scowl to indicate that he was getting to me. This only encouraged him and I imagine that this is how he was teased by an older sibling or a parent. He was only acting on what he had been taught, after all. Since he knew it was working, he started teasing me about the way I was carrying it, the way I was walking, my huffing and puffing and that my model looked like I was about to drop it.

"Look out, Danny! Whoah, watch out! You're going to drop it! Be careful! Watch the curb! Oh No!" he taunted, waving his arms and legs in my path. He never actually touched me or my project; he was careful. Yet his antics did cause me to fumble, and Godzilla swayed dangerously, not towards the skyscraper (which was doomed anyway) but to the edge of the base. Momentarily, he was frozen in place as one clay foot held onto the body. Then with a slow motion that I can still see, Godzilla fell to Earth, silent except for my own scream, his body tumbling head-first to the ground, his wimpy arms not long enough to break his fall. The rest of the project fell as I tried to catch it in midair. The skyscraper accordioned and the model cars scattered in all directions. It was the end of my world.

Godzilla lay flattened at my feet, his head at an odd angle, the grimace of surprise still out of place on his face. With Mike's laughter fading out of earshot as he walked past my block and home, I tried to salvage the great lizard, attempting to connect him to his left leg, which was now wedged against the skyscraper.

It was a sad day for a great movie monster who had met his maker (me actually) and died at his feet. Godzilla never stood quite so tall when I tried to right the disaster and indeed, his left side was about an inch shorter. The base had bent when it was dropped, so I piled everything in the middle and kind of bent it into a carrier and dumped the whole thing into a garbage can as I walked home via the alley. I was discouraged with my project, myself and snide bullies.

But after all was said and done, I had gotten a good mark on the piece and it was a lot of fun to make. I don't think any of the other kids, especially Mike, had made a movie monster with a skyscraper and some didn't even get to make one. They'll never have that much fun at school as I did making Godzilla.

Plus as I imagined Mike being chased by the real Godzilla, I felt even better. This imagined Godzilla breathed green radioactive fire, weighed tons, roared convincingly enough to make you wet yourself and had enormously muscular forearms. I did, after all, have a very vivid imagination.


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