Thursday, October 02, 2008


Overheard at the Junior Lego League Meeting

The scene: an organizational meeting of the junior lego league, in the elementary school cafeteria. We're sitting at the picnic-table-style tables, listening to a badly undermotivated teacher explain the lego league. TB and I are patiently waiting for something to happen. A Dad with three boys sits down next to me.

Teacher: and the projects are really about creativity, you know, thinking outside the box...

Boy 1: What box?

Dad: Shhh.


Dad (urgent stage whisper): The box inside your head.


Dad: Shhh!

Boy 1 (to boy 2): I don't have a box in my head!

Boy 2: Boxhead!

Boy 1: I'm not a boxhead. You're a boxhead.

Boy 3 (laughing): boxhead...

And another figure of speech dies at the junior lego league meeting.

I think "boxhead" should be an official term. Are you now, or have you ever been, a boxhead?
It was a mercy killing. That phrase should have died years ago.

"Boxhead," however, should live on.

The JLL sounds like a good idea -- TB does love his legos. Who knows what contraptions he'll construct with a gaggle of buddies. "Look, Dad, it's a scale model of your lower intestine!"

Okay, probably not that.
I was going to say what B. of DD said: That phrase should have died years ago. Anyone who says "think outside the box" is most definitely a boxhead, end of story.
I think you just summed up the entirety of American political discourse in 12 lines.
"Who knows what contraptions he'll construct with a gaggle of buddies."

In junior high we had a whole unit about physics and simple machines that we built USING LEGOS. It was possibly the best three weeks of my entire academic career. And possibly the only time I understood physics without hours upon hours of heat-beating frustration!
One of my very favorite cartoons is of a cat sitting next to a litterbox, being lectured by a guy in a business suit. "Never, ever think outside the box."
Boxhead/Blockhead/Squarehead used to be a pejorative aimed at Scandinavians.

As a kid I had no idea.

My brother and I noticed all on our own that my half-Norwegian half-Swedish father had a big square head (more like a lego actually).

My wife noticed my big square head within a few weeks of starting dating.

I knew nothing of all this until an opening retreat at the University of Utah about 20 years ago. An older professor of Norwegian extraction noticed the shape of my head and asked where my family was from. He filled me in.
When I was younger, my brother and I had a pile of legos. We discovered that it was easier to build spaceships for little guys made of legs, with a 2x2 block stuck on top. From then on, our crafts were crewed by "boxheads". Don't ask me how they operated the controls...
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