The Cast: Brian L. (a year older than me and lived kitty-corner left from my house), Brian S. (a year younger than me and lived next door on the right), Myself (Batman).
It was 1981.
I was six years old.
It was a cliche summer’s day.
The sun was out and I was having a great time with my friends, Brian S. and Brian L.. I don’t exactly recall what we were doing that day. I believe we were having some kind of adventure, either back in the days of castles and dragons, or off in the future with lasers and space travel. The point is that we were having fun like any kid would on a beautiful summer day. No school. No chores. No cares. Then, unexpectedly, I was called inside by my mother.
Normally this would not have been a concern, especially if it was later in the day. It was too early for lunch. My room was picked up—or was it? We weren’t going anywhere—or were we? My mind raced to figure out what I could have possibly done or what cataclysm had occurred to end my perfect, blissful summer’s day. So I did the only thing I could do, I said goodbye to my friends and headed home—not expecting to be able to come back out to play.
As I opened the door to our modest house I found my mother sitting there on one of our guest chairs in the front room, she had something in her lap and a smile on her face.
“I thought you would like to have this,” she declared, smiling.
I took what she offered with all the gratitude and joy any child could ever offer for the one thing they would have wanted in all the world—even if they hadn’t known they would’ve wanted it! Moments later a bolt of energetic joy shot from our house into the outside world in search of more play time—and now, criminal scum. I found my two friends about to head into one of their homes.
I called out, “Look what my mom got me!”
My mother had purchased for me a simple costume. That’s right, Batman! It was a blue square panel in front with a very geometric batsymbol on the chest. It secured around the waist with a yellow length of fabric for the utility belt that velcroed in the back. The cape was sewn onto the top left corner and velcroed on the top right. Like I said, simple. And yet, like a good background story alters the life of an unexpected hero (or superhero). My life was forever altered that cliche summer’s day back in 1981.
A few weeks after I had become Batman, Brian L. and I went over to Brian S.’s house whereupon Brian S. proudly displayed a magnificent creation that he had recently acquired. His sister was thoughtful enough to create for him his own convertible Batman suit. It was a light blue, long sleeve shirt with a long dark blue—longer than mine, scalloped cape and pointy-eared cowl—complete with Adam West style eyebrows (mine didn’t have a cowl). Brian S. even had a yellow fabric belt—with buckle—sewn onto the bottom of the shirt. “Not bad” is what I had told him but what I thought was “Not nearly as nice as mine”. I may have thought “Well, mine was first” or something possibly rude like that, it’s difficult to recall details.
The worst part, however, was the convertible aspect of the costume: Just take off the cowl, remove the cape and batsymbol—stupid velcro—and replace them with a red cape and yellow pentagon emblazoned with a red ‘S’. He could be Superman too!?!
It became clear what must happen from then on. What I must do. “Fine. Whenever we play superheroes, you’re Superman.” I announced and walked off. Because—and only because—as I have already said, I’m Batman!
I have remained Batman ever since. I don’t mean that I am Bruce Wayne, millionaire playboy. That would be silly, he’s fictional. I have maintained the title of Batman thanks to an organization with whom my employ lasted many years. As a result, there are thousands of people throughout the world that—when they see me—call out, “Hey, Batman!” They live all over the United States and a few are overseas. Most don’t even know my real name.
I still have that first childhood batsuit. It hangs on my wall behind glass. It is a reminder to me that anything is possible. Including silly childhood dreams of being a superhero, or just simply a hero—even if it’s almost.