Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...."

I had the most inane, but fascinating discussion the other day. Given the chance, what super hero would you want to be? No, these discussions don't only happen at the Seinfeld coffee shop. It was two other guys and me and as it went on it actually got kind of heated. Guys take their super heroes very personally. But to me it's no contest. Superman can do it all. He just has to avoid Kryptonite in it's various forms. Not as easy as it sounds but worth the trade off. Another guy wanted to be Batman. What!?!? And get this. The other Mensa candidate wanted to be the Flash! They each had their arguments but why bother. Superman trumped them all. I was a DC comics fan and never did the Marvel thing so maybe I don't have all the facts, but they just have no game. Batman's clever, wily, strong, has a great car and hideaway..... and is rich. The flash is Batman wouldn't stand a chance in the Octagon with Superman, and as far as speed....remember the one where Superman crossed the solar system in ten seconds and only lost time because he stopped to save a treed cat? Yes, he even has a super heart. And just use your imagination in regards to his X Ray vision. I could think of only one use for that when I was ten. Granted, I haven't read a Superman comic since around 1967 but unless things have radically changed, he's still my guy. And don't even try comparing the Bat Cave to the Fortress of Solitude.
In the course of blogging I've referenced the Man of Steel a few times. I've come to realize......once again...... it's a guy thing...... kinda like The Three Stooges. I'm sure you've gotten the old, "But why is he always hitting them?" Hey.....BECAUSE HE'S MOE!!!!!!! And forget trying to explain the letdown of a Shemp for a Curly.
I still have a picture of my father and me on the couch, sometime in the late fifties, early sixties staring at the TV. The caption reads "Interested in Superman." My brother got a camera around that time and by default became the historian of life on West Sixth Street. Captions and all. As a fan of Mad magazine he'd try to make them topical/irreverent/ cynical. There's another shot of my sister and me on her bed locked in combat. As usual, I'm on the bottom getting the worst of it as the caption reads "Typical."
My father's main complaint about Superman was he couldn't believe no one knew Clark Kent was Superman. Glasses and a suit? C'mon....I had to agree. But TV in the fifties and sixties demanded a suspension of belief. Why couldn't the professor just patch the hole on the Minnow? Why did the Howells bring a trunk full of clothes and packets of money? Why didn't Gilligan and Mary Ann ever.......or....did they? And remember the one where a camera and film washed up on the island? The castaways decide to make a movie recounting their shipwreck and hoped somebody would find it, put two and two together and come rescue them. Yeah....maybe. Or here's an idea. How about a movie where you stand there with a billboard that says "Help! We were shipwrecked on the Minnow a few years back. We think we're at (I'm sure the professor could come close to a longitude and latitude.) With us are the Thurston Howells (that's how they introduced well to do married couples in those days) and Ginger Grant, the movie star! Come rescue us!!!" Frustrating. But they had a half hour to fill.
The question is why do three guys in their fifties care about superheroes.... or Gilligan's Island...or The Three Stooges...Bewitched.....I dream of Jeannie. (Please.....just once can I see the belly button!!!!! ) Well, it impacted us. As did Combat.....The Rifleman...The New York Yankees and our neighbors, teachers and friends. That's what life is. A series of small meteors leaving their impacts. The St Mary's nuns left many an impact.
Life seems so much faster and more complicated for kids growing up today. They're preparing for college at nine years old. I meet and talk to parents every day and a lot of them are worn out by their kid's life schedule. Overload. But I guess everyone adapts. Most days, when I wasn't in school, my parents may or may not have known where I was till they saw me for lunch or dinner. Certain rules were laid down and I had to loosely roam within those parameters. They were too busy trying to make sure those meals were on the table and the mortgage was paid. Not that there weren't dangers out there. Plainfield, NJ was a volatile town in the sixties and the occasional black eye or bloody nose came with the territory. Is it better today? Worse? Kids standing next to each other texting rather than talking? It is what it is. A trite summation, but there you have it.
Be honest. Is this weird? I spend a lot of time on the road and get involved in these wild fantasies. I'm a Pisces and a dreamer. My teachers reminded me of that on more than one occasion. On a trip down the Garden State Parkway or The NJ Turnpike I can be captured by aliens or stranded on a desert island or asked to join a great blues band. The detail I go into is I realize I'm fifteen miles past my intended exit. In my profile I wrote something like "I can't escape this feeling that something wonderful is going to happen." I still feel that every day. Really. Many wonderful things have already happened. I'm a very lucky guy. But I still think that.....hey....what's that bright light in my backyard? Uh oh...they're he-eeere.....?