Being a homemade superhero for Halloween

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Al Batt, Tales from Exit 22

Halloween is like taking candy from strangers.

I was setting on ready.

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I had the “want to.”

I wanted to be a superhero.

Al Batt

I read the comics at the barbershop. That kept me plugged into the world of superheroes. I thought I could be a superhero. I’d already changed the course of history. That’s how I flunked the history test.

A superhero would demand that folks fill my pillowcase with goodies better than candy corn — the last new candy corn was made in 1923. Some people gave fun-size candy bars. They were miniscule. Fun-size should be the size of a Buick. The gym teacher made trick-or-treaters do ten pushups before he gave out candy.

The year before, I had dressed like a monster and carried a kite. I’d gone trick-or-treating as Benjamin Frankenstein. I was a shiver looking for a spine to run up. It was a childish attempt at sarcasm. How many other kids went as Benjamin Frankenstein? The number was at or below zero. My neighbor Crandall carried a TV remote and went as his father.

Every Halloween, I heard the same thing. “What are you supposed to be?” It didn’t matter. Each Halloween, I got candy. My mother got sympathy cards.

I had given up trying to be scary at Halloween. It was impossible to find anything scarier than election ads. I wanted to be a superhero. My mother suggested that I be a ghost instead. A couple of slits for my eyes cut in an old sheet and I’d be set. I didn’t want to be a ghost. I’d been a ghost before and had lost my haunting license. I gave my mother the oath.

“If you get me a superhero costume, Mom, I promise I’ll never ask for anything ever again. I’ll do whatever you tell me to do and I’ll always be ready early for Sunday School. I promise to apply myself in school, keep my room clean, and to eat everything on my plate because of all the starving children in China.”

I went on and on. It was a bad pitch with an elaborate windup. Like a cloying politician, I tended to overpromise and underdeliver.

I was steadfast in my desire to be a superhero. Mother said she’d see what she could do. I smiled like an Academy Award winner. I had to sit on my hands to keep from clapping.

My mother decided to put dressing on the turkey and found a T-shirt featuring an image of a discount superhero. The dime store purchase was as big as a tent. She liked things that I could grow into.

To go with the T-shirt that wasn’t super duper, I sported a long underwear bottom. Over it, I donned boxer shorts that my mother had dyed red and sewn the fly shut. I decided to wear the shorts backwards with the fly in the back. It was a nice touch.

I stood in front of a full-length mirror. An act that regularly broke my heart as I watched me growing up so fast. What was presented this time would have been a challenge for even the most fulsome of flatterers. I sunk down like a sow in a swamp. The mirror had turned on me and had become like a vending machine that took my money but didn’t give me what I wanted. The trick-or-treater I saw was despair-inducing. The T-shirt was so large that I couldn’t see all of the superhero who had been marked down to a good enough-hero. The long underwear looked dorky. Long underwear has two jobs — to keep a person warm and to look dorky. I’d eaten some beets and had spilled beet juice on my long johns. Trick-or-treating would be on a night that wasn’t fit for man nor beets. I wore battered blue sneakers. The red boxer shorts with the fly stitched shut in the back clearly demonstrated that I was a clotheshorse in the making.

It wasn’t my finest moment. I was a crappy version of what I wanted to be. A fellow who believes in reincarnation told me that when a person dies, he comes back as a lesser being. I looked as if I were on my last trip.

I was living the dream.

I looked at my reflection in that mirror. I was supposed to be a superhero but I didn’t feel all-powerful. I had no superpowers other than the ability to blush brighter than the setting sun.

I’ll bet that’s why so many superheroes wear masks.

I was the only superhero at my school who wore a catcher’s mask.

That was no fun while it lasted.

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.