Batman

With apologies to WKRP‘s Mr. Carlson, “As God is my witness, I thought Batman could fly.” I realize this might come as a shock to some, but, when I was young, I had a somewhat active imagination and love of super heroes. All of which lead to me standing on a hospital balcony a couple of stories above the ground, wearing my Batman cape and getting ready to take a fly around the neighborhood.

So who says imagination is a good thing?

My parents, good hippie-wannabes that they were, always encouraged my to have my imagination run wild. To that end, I was parked in front of a flickering television screen that was topped by foil-wrapped rabbit ears and allowed to watch whatever I wanted. Yeah, I know. A bit contradictory, but that was the 60’s and early 70’s. I especially loved shows like Batman, Shazam and (FSM knows why) the Beverly Hillbillies, but I had to have something special for each one.

To watch Batman, I had to have a black cape to wear so I could blend into the night, or, really, just let it flutter behind me as I raced around the house screaming, “Pow! Bam.” To watch Shazam (in which young Billy Batson said a magic word and transformed into the world’s mightiest mortal, Captain Marvel), I had to have a special ring that would let me change as well. And to watch the Beverly Hillbillies I had to have an old-fashioned (not real) rifle. Go ahead, say it. Yes, I was a strange little dude. So I guess not much has changed. Except for the little part.

Anyway, my grandmother (who, thank FSM, is still with us) made me the Batman cape and it was something I just couldn’t do without for years and years. I even had it when I went into the hospital. I’m still not sure why I was in the hospital, maybe tonsils getting removed, nothing very tragic, I’m sure. So I was in my room, there was a window right there and I thought, “I’ve got my cape. I might as well fly around and get a look at the place. I mean, from this height, surely I’ll be able to achieve lift off. After all, I am Batman.”

It was the nurse who found me. I had just managed to get my 5-year-old legs up over the railing and was getting ready to take off when she grabbed me. I looked at her like she was crazy. She looked at me just the same way. I couldn’t understand why she would stop me from taking off when everyone knew Batman could fly and, of course, I was Batman. She couldn’t understand why anyone had kids or why she actually went into pediatric nursing in the first place.

Eventually we both calmed down and she got me to promise I wouldn’t try to fly if my parents weren’t there to see it. I guess she figured it would be best to pass the Bat-buck that way. My mom, unfortunately, wasn’t any easier to convince about the whole flying thing when she came back from the cafeteria.

I bring this up because the other day I was cleaning out the middle little dude’s closet and came across his Batman cape. Of course, for him it was a vampire cape that let him change into a wolf and a bat, but the principle was the same. He hadn’t worn it in, maybe six or seven years, but it was still hanging in his closet, gently collecting dust. I made sure to wrap it up and put it in a safe, well-labled place in the attic. After all, you never know when you’ll need the services of an overactice little dude wearing just the right kind of cape.

— Richard

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