Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Buried now to blossom later...

There are memories I have so deeply buried that it almost feels like a story I heard about someone else rather than something I lived through. The most random things can act as triggers that turn these vague recollections into visceral detonations. Today it was a morning run. It made me think about junior high and how awful it felt to go to gym class only to learn we'd be running The Mile that day. The whole class would march outside like prisoners on their way to the guillotine. And not once was it ever any less awful than you'd expected it to be.

I was remembering one of these runs in particular. I stopped to walk for just a minute and became aware that the two girls walking behind me were whispering about me. I strained to make out just a few words that might help discern the context of this conversation. But let's face it... I was not the sort of 7th grader who ever got whispered about in regards to how cute he was or anything of that nature. So it didn't take long to figure out I was being made fun of. And then I managed to make out one word very clearly... and my stomach sank. One. Fucking. Word. That's all it took to shatter my entire twelve year old world. You know what it was? You know what she said?


Sweet mother of monkey balls... these two knew my secret! The cape & cowl wearing skeleton I'd worked so hard to keep in the closet had just escaped. But how? Who had broken my trust and stabbed me in the back?

No, I was not operating under the delusion that I was a pint sized Caped Crusader. That phase had passed a few years prior. But I was still dressing up as Batman... for movies. My first movies as a matter of fact. We had just finished shooting our fourth that weekend. But nobody knew that. Because what we were doing was not cool. Liking Batman was not cool. Making movies was not cool. And I was not cool. The only thing I had going for me was that there were some people less cool than I was. But once word got out that I was jumping around my basement in a cape... forget about it. Game over.

My friends were unwilling participants in these endeavors. And they made sure to let me know it every step of the way. I know they had better things to do than sweat their balls off in a Mr. Freeze costume (oh, the irony) or paint half their face green, but they were there every time I asked and now I realize that makes them better friends than I gave them credit for. Still, their reputations were at stake too and I very selfishly understood that meant they might never help me make another movie again.

I started running again. Away from the girls. Away from everything. But that single word haunted me. I tried telling myself I could have misheard them. Maybe they were talking about someone else entirely. These were hollow consolations. I knew very well what I'd heard. And I knew no 7th grade girl had any business uttering the word Batman in a normal conversation.

It didn't take long to discover what had happened. We'd asked my sister's friend to be in the latest movie. She had played Batman's love interest. And like so many of the women in the Dark Knight's life, she turned out to be one hell of a femme fatale. See, this girl wasn't living by the same rules as the rest of us. She didn't care about being cool or what people thought of her. So when the teacher started homeroom by asking what everyone did that weekend she told them. The whole class. Then they told more people. Who told more people. Who told one of the girls in my gym class.

By the end of the day everyone knew. I had people singing the 1960's Batman TV theme as I passed them in the hallway. As I got on my bus someone yelled "Did the Batmobile break down?". My friends hated me. I hated me. I went home and cried, completely ashamed of myself.

It's amazing how the things you try to hide early in your life can wind up so strongly defining you later.

I make movies. I love Batman. That's pretty cool.



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