I've always had quite the imagination. I've also been quite the geek. Ladies and gentlemen, I tell you now that these qualities, when mixed together, can be quite embarrassing.
Circa 1989. Chad and I had just been given a lift by Chad's father to the Famous Players theatre at Sunridge Mall (the OLD Famous Players to those geezers like me who remember it). Michael Keaton turned out a brilliant performance as Mr. Bruce Wayne aka Batman. Jack Nicholson was stunning as The Joker. And Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale was certainly easy on my pre-teen pervert eyes. But this movie was not just two hours of entertainment for me. I was impressionable due to said imagination and the subject matter was perfect fuel for my geekatomy.
I was really into Batman. Like REALLY. I had to get all the posters on my wall, all the action figures, any magazine or comic book with the symbol shown on it. Novel based on the film? Check. Cereal with some sort of free Batman thing in the box? Check. Batman printed underwear? You know that's a check!
What I didn't have, however, was a costume. A wonderful foam latex costume that could stop bullets and yet be aerodynamic enough to let me jump from rooftop to rooftop with ease. And I didn't have the Batmobile. These were blemishes in my life at the time. It was unacceptable and so I improvised as best I could.
An oval cut from cardboard and coloured in black and yellow made for a serviceable Batsymbol to tape to the handlebars of my bike, and another fin-shaped piece of cardboard was attached to the back of my bicycle seat to give it that streamlined effect.
My costume was the perfect disguise, from the Lone Ranger mask, to the cheap all-black Dracula cape, and the black and yellow Batman officially licensed t-shirt. Black sweatpants and stretch-gloves finished off the ensemble.
But this wasn't enough for me. No, I couldn't just embarrass myself in front of my family with this silly outfit. I had to embarrass myself in front of the whole world.
On one of the busiest streets in Airdrie at the time, I decided I. Would. Be. Batman! Decked out in costume, I retrieved my Batbike. However, the damn chain fell off again and again so I had to leave it in the Batshed. On foot I marched out to East Lake Blvd with shoulders back and dignity intact. And then, in front of hundreds of vehicles that day, I held aloft my Batman action figure and screamed "BATMANNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!"
I ran as fast as my legs would carry me up and down the boulevard, repeatedly screaming "Batman" to anyone who would listen, my flimsy cape billowing behind my thin frame. I vaguely remember many faces staring at me. I choose to remember their expressions as that of awe and respect. Even when I tripped on uneven sidewalk and fell on my face, the laughter from that asshole in his backyard was merely done to hide his jealousy that he was not Batman. My aunt and cousin lived right along this route that I was selflessly defending from evil, and even to this day my cousin will never let me forget how much he and the rest of Airdrie admired me and appreciated the great work I was doing.
I'm not sure what happened to the costume. I guess it was cleverly thrown out by my mother when I wasn't looking. The Batbike survived until it was stolen from outside a comic book store a few years later. But no one will ever be able to take that day away from me...the day I became a true superhero.
By superhero I mean loser. And to those of you who actually took the time to read this...35 "likes" on my status update about this post or "likes" on the post itself in Facebook...and I'll do it again. I'm just that crazy. Let's just hope this time I can find a real latex suit.