MIKE GOLD: X-Ray Specs
Reading Michael Davis’s last two columns brings to mind a story; a story about glasses.
I can’t tell you the exact year, but it was around 1990. We were in Chicago (go figure) at the late, lamented Chicago Comicon, since subsumed by Wizard World. By “we” I am referring to Messrs Davis, Cowan, Ostrander, Grell, and my former wife Ann DeLarye. Ann had to get back to New York on business and, therefore, I had to drive her to the airport nearby. It was late at night. Very late. The time of night when only Richard Belzer would wear sunglasses.
Since Michael and Denys and I had late night things to do – probably involving Ostrander and Grell because, as you inferred from Michael’s column yesterday, we often hung out together at conventions, certainly at Chicago shows where Ostrander and I, and to a slightly lesser extent Grell, knew the city like the back of our usually typing hands. In the door pocket of my car (yes, whenever possible I drive everywhere east of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon Line) was a pair of wraparound shades. Sort of like the type Cyclops would wear if he didn’t mind melting the plastic. I was blessed with great peripheral vision and on long highway drives sometimes it’s helpful for me to wear them to minimize the blinding sun coming across the open fields along the highway. This isn’t as much of a problem today as I’m almost completely blind and I’ll probably run you over no matter which direction the sunlight comes from.
However, at that time there was only one logical reason for me to don wraparound shades at 11:30 at night: I wanted to mindfuck Davis and Cowan. So, on my head they went.
I glanced back at Denys and Michael in the rear view mirror whenever traffic would allow. Despite the fact that I wasn’t wearing an X-Men uniform (I was on DC’s payroll at the time), I noted the two were desperately and consistently trying to avoid giggling. They didn’t want to be rude and, oh yeah, at the time I was editing their stuff and the whole “discretion is the better part of valor” thing played into their thoughts.
So I did what any red-blooded sophomoric American would do: I consistently made subtle and inappropriate references to sunglasses, visors, Cyclops, the X-Men, Gort, mythology… whatever I could think of to drop the whole bit into their laps. As I did so, it became harder and harder for the two to restrain themselves. It got to the point where Denys and Michael couldn’t even look at each other lest they explode in laughter.
As we turned on the road to our final post-airport destination, I whipped out my big one. I told, in precise detail, the story of how my father was monocular and how doctors removed his non-functioning extremely yellow eye and put in a nice looking glass replacement.
Those guys were not raised to make fun of people’s ill-health, particularly the parents of their friends. So as I glanced back I saw that Michael had his fist in his mouth and Denys was holding his breath to the point of tears. Both were rolling their eyes around and fidgeting like they had to go to the bathroom after a three-hour roller coaster ride.
Because I am indeed their friend, I asked them if they’d prefer my dropping them off at our destination before I parked. Both were afraid if they opened their mouths they’d sound like The Joker on crack, so each – without making eye contact – severely nodded their approval.
Yep. I am that much of an asshole.
We all do our share of conventions and store appearances. In fact, that’s why I’m typing these words in a hotel room in north central Ohio right now. And we cross paths from time to time, often by prearrangement. In fact, I met John Ostrander and Mary Mitchell at this very hotel a few years ago as they were heading east to New Jersey and I was heading west to Detroit; we had dinner 13 miles outside of Cleveland. I occasionally meet up with Davis and/or Cowan despite the fact that we are anchored at opposite ends of the country.
So I still have those wraparound shades in my car. You know, just in case.
THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil
- MICHAEL DAVIS: Who To Blame… Part 1 (comicmix.com)
You know, after telling that story, I think you owe us a picture of yourself wearing those shades.