They say that you’re only as old as you feel. Well, if that’s the case, then I’m probably about six. I love toys. Not adult toys, like iPhones, gadgets or wherever you’re dirty mind is going, but actual toys. No, I’m not a sad little man like Steve Carell’s character in The 40-Year Old Virgin. All I’m saying is that if it was socially acceptable for a 23-year old to sprawl out on his living room floor and play with a miniature Millennium Falcon for five hours straight, then I know what I’d be doing during my free time.
Sadly, as time has gone on I’ve had to conform to the norms of this boring, unimaginative society. Adulthood is overrated in so many ways. Still, I’ve managed to hold onto one type of toy that I never plan on letting go – trains.
Model trains are so cool! Think about it – they look just like the real thing, have little motors inside that run on electricity via a handheld transformer and some of them even blow steam and whistle! Tell me this isn’t amazing. Since I was a little kid my dad and I have collected model trains (on his dollar, of course. Model trains are EXPENSIVE!). Hundreds of model trains are displayed along the walls of our home; companies the likes of Williams, American Flyer and, of course, the world-famous Lionel. We’ve been doing it for so long that we actually identify some of our older ones by the names of Thomas the Tank Engine characters. Gordon is my favorite. He’s a plain, black steam engine that barely works anymore. Yet, he was my grandpa’s, which makes him special to me.
At Christmas you can catch me, stomach on the floor and feet in the air, watching the trains go around the tree. We used to have an actual train set – with miniature houses, roads and even people – but had to take it down for the sake of space. Now a couple weeks of tracks around the tree are all I have. Still, I cherish it. Though I used to be embarrassed to tell people about my somewhat nerdish hobby, I now talk about it with pride and wonderment. And you know what – a lot of people actually think it’s awesome!
I saw another Gordon at a model train convention not that long ago. As it ends up, he isn’t worth much outside of the sentimentality he carries with him. An expert at the convention told me I’d get little more than $100 for him if I were to sell him. Plus, Gordon has a lot of chips and dings on him thanks to the rough nature that my child-self treated him with. But the monetary worth of all my trains isn’t the point of having them anyway – it’s the fact that they remind me it’s okay to be a kid and let your imagination run away with you every once in a while. They’re a window into the soul of little Frankie, who despite his job, master’s degree and 180-pound frame is still alive and well.