Susan's Blog

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The ‘Hood, A Fad, and the Uglis

I awoke with a cand-over. This is worse than a hangover: it is, of course, a backformation invented this morning to describe a candy hangover (nausea, sore neck, headache, disgust for sugared food). This makes me want to write about Ben, who went out trick-or-treating with a band of ten boys, and a few weakly-costumed moms.

Ben is the most creative person I have ever met. It is typical for us to find piles of paper with creatures drawn on them and elaborately-fonted text explaining all about them. He invents whole cultures, languages, and even planets populated with his people. He makes them into Lego people. He talks about them as if they exist.

Recently in our home little slips of paper — the post-its I bought for work — have been turning up here and there with tiny creatures drawn on them. Ben’s work, of course. The post-its then appeared on a sheet of paper, stacked up one on top of the other. Ben explained it to me: something that began as an assignment, as part of an intro to economics (yes, in fifth grade!), the kids were to come up with items they would like to sell if they were to own shops. Ben teamed up with M and thus the Uglis were born.

Ben was quite willing to hang out with The Ten. He didn’t even know some of them. He is not really friends with most of them. But most were in his class, and lived around here.

This is not like the Ben of old, my little darling who was shy of large groups his whole life. Last night Ben just donned his “Keton” mask and costume and temporarily dyed blue hair, and became Kafei, and joined up with the ninjas and the grim reapers, collecting tiny candybars and running from house to house. He has become, in fifth grade, a looser, bouncier, happier version of himself, and he seems to be unfolding by the week.

I think one reason is the Uglis, the guys on the little post-its. The Uglis are Pokemon-like beings that Ben and M — and then also Ben’s best friend I — designed for their store. The Uglis “evolve” the way Pokemon do: one starts out kind of innocent, with fairly benign powers, and eventually morphs into its most powerful form. The Pokemon, as many of you know, have clever names. Squirtle, for instance, is a turtle-like Pokemon who evolves into War Tortle. (Squirtle was also the name of Ned’s beloved ’94 Civic, may he rest in peace. Ned actually donated Squirtle to one of our favorite charities, WBUR, which is the Boston branch of NPR, so you could say that Squirtle is not dead at all, but rather, has morphed into a new evolution, perhaps something like “Yertl,” for the famous hubris-filled turtle of Seussian fame.) In Ugli world, there is, for example, “Serafight,” an angel-like being who fights. Serafight evolves into Cheruboom, an angel-like thing with a cannon. And so on.

[break for coffee]

Ahhh, where was I? The Uglis. Well, Ben’s little shop of Uglis became a real-world meme of sorts throughout the fifth grade. Everyone started designing and trading their Uglis, with Ben pretty much in charge. Even girls were making Uglis.

Yesterday in the car Ben said to me, “You know how you get a whole bunch of people to play with you? You start a game where you draw creatures that you have to buy and sell to each other.”

“Oh, like the Uglis?” I asked, astute Mommy that I am.

“Yeah,” he said.

Maybe I should start drawing Uglis. I wonder if you can make them Pretties?

1 comment

‘Pretties’ sounds a great idea!
Hope your cand-over is better!

— added by Casdok on Sunday, November 2, 2008 at 3:47 am

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