Last week, I pulled a muscle in my back. This event, though rare, is not unknown; my back will hurt me every other year or so. I should know the steps by now – hideous, agonizing pain, worse than any other person ever born has ever endured (because it’s happening to me), rest and recuperations, which includes excruciating guilt about suspending my workouts while the muscle recovers. In a week or so, the pain will be gone and I’ll forget about it until the next time.
For now, though, I can’t sit down or stand up without an up-close-and-personal insight into how the muscles along the spine interact. And every twinge reminds me that I’m no longer eleven years old.
For many people, an adult child, monthly condo payments, and the occasional hot flash might be enough to convince them that they were mature adults. To me, these are just distractions from my real life.
In many ways, being an adult today is like the fantasyland I imagined as a child. There are comic book stores, full of current comics, amazing toys and books about my favorite old television shows. A few blocks from the comic book store, there’s a costume shop that’s open all year round, not just at Halloween. There are candy stores, bookstores, bagel shops and playgrounds all over the place. In a few weeks, it will be spring and I can roller-blade again.
Of course, I feel like I’m still a kid.
My job doesn’t always make me feel more grown-up. Dwayne McDuffie
once told me that the Internet is like the biggest junior high school in the universe. Instead of bringing us all together in one big virtual Woodstock festival, the web lets us break off into an infinite number of cliques, where the jocks can hang out with the jocks, cheerleaders can hang with cheerleaders, student council presidents can hang with student government types, the AV nerds can hang out with the AV nerds, and us comic geeks can hang out with each other.
When I was in junior high school, I didn’t know any other people who read comics (except for Kenny Raffle, whose parents were friends with my parents but he went to a different school than I did). There was no one with whom I could discuss my theories about time travel, or parallel dimensions, or whether Supergirl would have to take her honeymoon in the Bottle City of Kandor. I thought about these things – rather incessantly, in fact – but there were no witnesses.
My friend, Elizabeth, shared some of my other geek tastes. We were both huge fans of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
and the Smothers Brothers
. Liz wrote to Tom and Dick so often she was on their Christmas card list. I had an U.N.C.L.E. ID card. In the last five years, because of my professional responsibilities only (I wasn’t stalking them!), I’ve talked to both David McCallum and Robert Vaughn, and neither ran away screaming (although perhaps McCallum wanted to, but I couldn’t tell because we were talking on the telephone).
We also adored Leonard Cohen, the first of what would become an ever-escalating attempt on my part to look literary, sensitive, and cool. Luckily, Leonard Cohen
is a genius, and his work continues to move me nearly four decades later.
Liz never got into comics, though. Maybe if she had, I would have developed more well-rounded tastes. Maybe, if I hadn’t gone to an all-girls boarding school, I would have had a few dates when I was a teenager, and felt like a grown-up. Maybe there would have been boys just as geeky as I was, whom I would see at the newsstands on the days new comics came in. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt that only someone else with a tormented soul like mine – someone like Bruce Wayne or Brainiac 5 – would ever understand me. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Perhaps it could happen sometime in the future. Or maybe I’ll have to wait until I have grandchildren to act my age.
ComicMix Media Goddess Martha Thomases is currently recovered well enough to skip.