Thursday, March 22, 2007

Waxing nostalgic

I stood out in the sun in shirtsleeves this afternoon. There was no chill whatsoever in the air. The parking lot at work didn't look any different than normal, and I kept getting a weird sensation like I was being protected from the usual cold by some type of forcefield encircling my body.

I suggested to a couple of friends that we blow off the afternoon and go to the zoo. I was kidding when I said this, and they were kidding when they agreed that we should do exactly that. I soon discovered, though, that this was actually my heart's desire.

I want to wend through the zoo and watch the animals greet the new season. I want to rest on a park bench within sight of a giraffe, eating cotton candy. I want to feed my quarters into a Mold-A-Rama machine and get a hot wax replica of a nearby animal. When Rich reminded me that these machines existed, I was hit immediately with the memory of the smell of molten wax they produced. It made me feel small again.

I read somewhere that smell is the sense most closely tied to memory, and in that moment, I certainly believed that to be true.

Basically, a Mold-A-Rama is just a semi-transparent injection mold machine. There are lights indicating the status of the toy it is making especially for you, and the whole thing is very futuristic in a 1960s way. When I would visit the zoo as a child it was like magic. It was as though the machine was manufacturing a real animal, or maybe a flower.

The smell only lasted a few minutes, but if you broke the instructions and held it while it was still cooling, it would stay on your hands for hours.

I say it was like the machine was manufacturing a flower because the resulting toy, once cooled, was brittle and very hard not to break. The bottoms always had two irregular holes in the bottom from the two metal prongs inside the machine. Any attempt to smooth out this bottom surface (in order that the animal could stand without wobbling, for instance) resulted in a large chunk breaking off of the bottom.

But it was never about the end result with the Mold-A-Rama. It was the process. And, of course, the smell.


Nikki Neurotic said...

I feel kind of deprived now. I've never seen one of those machines before.

After my grandmother passed away, I felt like I wanted the earth to stop moving for a little while, like, just my regular routine to be put on pause while I got my bearings and before I had to face reality. I think your desire to go to the zoo today was similar, you wanted to go back to a favorite childhood place so you could forget what was happening for a few hours.

Chris said...

Zoo's make me sad. I was more of a Fair girl myself. I have strong memories of going to the CNE or Canadian National Exhibition and my Dad buying me a red candy apple & riding the Merry-go-round. Except I was afraid of the horses so I always sat on the benches that didn't move and my Dad would sit with me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for giving the opportunity to dream the past!

The Moon Topples said...

SilverN: It is possible that you are right, but I think I pretty much always long to capture some distant of childhood.

Chris: The bench seems a good way to go. Those horses can be terrifying. Their eyes never looked right to me.

Canterbury: You're welcome, though all I did was dream about it myself, and then tell you about it.

Anonymous said...

Imagine a blog like a Mold-A-Rama. The machine whirl when you first click on a blog, the motion, the smell, and each post would come out in a little shape.

basest said...

You've got me smelling hot wax. I love the mold-a-rama. It would be interesting to know if anyone has been able to keep a mold-a-rama animal for any significant length of time. Maybe someone should develop a mold-a-rama warmer, to bring the odor back whenever one wanted to relive the experience.

Unknown said...

This machine sounds great, but like Chris I prefer fair's. I don't like seeing animals caged up. I can almost smell your mold-a-rama though. ( :

mist1 said...

I have my own Mold-A-Rama. I call it a refrigerator.

Pants said...

Lovely post Maht.

Anonymous said...

Hey Maht, Ms Pants is right, it is a lovely post. Melancholic in a good way, if you know what I mean.

I've just been having a look at some of your recent posts, and I'm very sorry to say that I found myself laughing at the thing your friend said about how...

" should be flattering to know that I can bring down a death gathering with the sheer weight of my pathos...."

There is just no way that that is not exceptionally funny. I felt awful for laughing, but could barely contain it.

Anyway, lovely Moon, I was sorry to read that your Granny had died. These things are never easy to process and come to terms with. I know that this is barely relevant, but your writing is suffused with something beautiful at the moment, Maht.

Warm regards from Ireland....


The Moon Topples said...

GT: I'm pretty sure that's how my blog works already. Haven't you walked into my workspace and seen my "cooling" light on just before I publish something?

Basest: I think I made one last about a year once. The tough thing for us was moving every year. They could never survive such an ordeal. On the internet, though, there are all sorts of enthusiasts and collectors who have managed to keep these things intact for decades.

Veri: I liked fairs as well. I think the zoo thing was more special because it was much rarer.

Mist1: I imagine the toys you extract from that device are fragile as well.

TSP: Thanks.

PE: I'm always flattered when you stop by. Or at least you always flatter me. Thanks much for the kind words, and do not feel bad for laughing. It really was funny in its own way, and is no doubt something I will recall for years and years.

And I shared it in hopes of raising a chuckle. I thought it was a good way to lighten the mood around here after my grandmother died.