I remember it as if it happened yesterday -- my short-lived superhero fantasy role come true. At least, in my mind, I was Batman for half a day, protecting my home from imaginary nemeses when I was ten years old.
I cannot tell you exactly when my metamorphosis occurred from being a boy to a superhero. But for some strange reason, little boys are programmed to emulate their idols with super human strength and be magically transformed into an invincible superpower. Girls, on the other hand, are programmed differently. They somehow magically transform into lovely princesses who adore the color pink. All I can say is that I always read Batman comic books, and when the Batman television series first aired in 1966, he came alive to me.
For my cape, my stepmother fastened a towel around my neck and let it dangle down my back. I wore torn socks on my hands for gloves, and I borrowed my brother's sunglasses so no one could identify me. I also wore dull, black winter boots that helped me to run faster and to kick the bad guys away. In this remarkable imaginary Batman costume, I took on the evildoer's of my day. That is, until I fell half-way into a window well and stepped on a rusty nail that required a trip the hospital for a tetanus shot.
It was a bright, summer day when I donned my costume and went outside to conquer the world. My friends had joined me in their superhero costumes, and we fought imaginary adversaries. My job was to protect my house (which I pretended was my Bat Cave) at all costs. I recall running close to my "cave," kicking and hitting my imaginary foes, when the unthinkable happened.
In my neighborhood, every house had a basement, and there were small windows high above the walls inside each basement. The windows were protected on the outside by horseshoe-shaped, aluminum shields with some space between them and the windows. These aluminum shields looked like small, half-shaped "wells."
As I ran close to the house, my left leg found its way into one of these small "wells." My other leg, bent at the knee, was still on top of the yard next to it. I yelled as loud as I could when the nail inside the well pierced my boot and entered my foot. My friends thought I was playing around and did not come to my aid right away. They only summoned help when I lifted my foot out of the well, and they saw a small board and nail attached to my boot.
That day, I discovered the difference between reality and imagination. I was no more a superhero than my friends who tried to convince me otherwise. However, I did continue to play superhero games after my foot healed. But I chose to battle my enemies farther out in the yard, letting someone else fight with those nearer to my cave.
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