Assembling a Nerf-Strike Elite Mega Centurion Blaster on My Day Off

Alan Hanson
Human Parts
Published in
3 min readAug 2, 2013

I do not have to work today and I do not have plans until much, much later. It is early July and my Harlem apartment is musty and muggy. I have deprived myself of the small AC window-unit after running it the entirety of the previous night. An oscillating desk fan pendulums the thick air back and forth and tickles my underarms. I am wearing a tank top.

This is a new and personally bold fashion choice. Practically, it makes sense: there is the comfort of cloth on my back, combined with ovals of ventilation at my sides, yielding a gentle and subtle pleasure. On the other hand, I am a six-foot-tall skeleton weighing in at an embarrassing 130 pounds. The tank top only accentuates my boyish frame — I have yet to wear it outside. This is my house tank top. I did not seek this tank top out. I got it for free at a Nerf-sponsored event. I’ve heard of people receiving iPads in their swag-bags; as I left the Nerf Summer Bash I instead received a beach mat, a Vortex, and this tank top. I am not complaining. The Vortex whistles while it works.

My girlfriend, however, won a Nerf-Strike Elite Mega Centurion Blaster. The toy is the size of a real rifle. It was mailed to the winners of the event because of its size. It arrived in a large box last night.

Due to the amount of time I assume it will take to assemble the Centurion (approximately twenty minutes) and the heat that’s turning my skin to glue, I decide to purchase two Coors tall boys. I also decide to blast Black Sabbath for the duration of my task. I recently moved to New York from Los Angeles, which somehow altered my idea of “summer tunes.” It transferred from breezy salt-licked slacker rock to a harder, steam-filled Gotham variation of the former. I am the “Lord Of This World” — and this world consists of drinking beer, listening to stoner-metal, assembling a huge toy gun and calling it an afternoon.

I have never, and will never, feel like an adult, or more specifically a Man with a capital M like the Men who reside on the higher branches of the Hanson family tree. Nor have I ever felt like my uniformly military and straight-laced father. Yet, through pure subconscious happenstance, I am sitting on the floor drinking a Coors, blasting “Paranoid,” exposing my armpit hairs, and building a Thing.

I am my father’s son.

And for the first time this doesn’t frighten me into non-existence. For all of the knuckled and gritted mistakes he made, and despite the ever-expanding chasm between topics we can agree on, I see the joy and lifelong love that being a father instilled in him.

Which has now instilled in me the beaming want for a child — to smooth the wrinkles my father made and trump his child-rearing gold medal achievements. His flaws only make me want to do better. I am no longer carrying the barbs I thought he so maliciously left in my sensitive skin. I am understanding.

I am listening to “Iron Man” and realizing it doesn’t matter that I never saw him compete in a race of the same name or that he has snow blind eyes when it comes to my puke-flower poetry. My only lament now is that toy instructions weren’t so clear and simple twenty years ago. I have assembled the Nerf-Strike Elite Mega Centurion Blaster in less than five minutes and did not shout “fuck” or “goddamnit” or “throw the damn thing away.”

I sit leaning against the wall with my second tall boy. It is 1 PM and I am totally picking up what Ozzy is throwing down on “War Pigs.” I am also shooting a toy gun at a wall and speaking in a baby-voice to my pet tortoise while waiting to buy marijuana.

I am not my father’s son.

And it becomes painfully clear how unprepared I am for my wild reproduction fantasies.