It was nearing the end of the summer of 1986. Mom had gone to town to buy me a backpack for my upcoming year in first grade. I’d asked her for one of the Superman backpack’s I’d seen at K-Mart — sky blue all around, with a big full-color drawing of Supes flying out toward you on the back. I had been out most of the day with Dad, or Pap and Granny — I can’t remember which. When I got back, Mom was home. She smiled excitedly and told me, “Now, they were sold out of Superman backpacks, but I found one that’s even better!”
There on my bed, propped up against a pillow so I could see it the moment I walked through the door, was a Batman backpack.
I was livid.
“I wanted Superman!
” I cried, and a full-fledged tantrum ensued, kicking and screaming and bitter recriminations and everything. I demanded that Mom take the Batman backpack back and bring me the Superman version I demanded. Thinking back on it now, it’s pretty embarrassing. My Mom is one of the most loving and patient people in the world, and she had tried so hard to sell me on that Batman backpack before I saw it — the smile, the excitement in her voice. I was an ungrateful little fuck. But I got my Superman backpack. She returned Batman to K-Mart and found me Superman somewhere, and that’s what I used to carry my books in first grade. I dressed up as Superman for Halloween that year. Mom made me the costume herself, and it was awesome.
Within a few months I had jumped ship and was in the Batman camp for good. I still loved Superman, still do to this day, but that’s the sort of contrary little bastard I was. Not long after I had thrown a fit to get her to return that Batman backpack, I was begging Mom to take me to KB Toys or Zayre’s (for in those days we had no Wal-Mart, nor even an Ames, and the nearest Toys ‘R Us was in Frederick) to buy me Batman and Robin action figures like the ones I saw advertised Saturday mornings during Super Powers
. Channel 5 showed reruns of the old Batman TV series during the week, and I got keen on that, as well. Then in the summer of 1989 Tim Burton’s Batman opened, and I saw it, and if I hadn’t been permanently hooked on Batman before, I surely was after.
I dressed up as Batman in fourth grade (another awesome Mom-made costume), and I spent most of middle school and all of high school writing Batman fan fiction in my spare time. Fuck, I’m 28 and I still write the odd Batman short story today. I just posted one on Friday, and I’m working on another one now.
The point is, I owe Mom an apology for making her take back that Batman backpack.
This article marks the official end of Batman Week, but McAsherson and I will be discussing The Dark Knight
at length tomorrow on The Snark-Gap Transmission
, because Batman Week is hard to just let go. It's just too much damn fun.