by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
November 12, 2006
WE NEED 'DRESS LIKE A PIRATE' DAY
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- I wish we didn't live in a society that frowned upon what we wear in public. I'm not talking about savagely-ripped jeans and t-shirts with quotes that encourage people to perform anatomically impossible acts on themselves.
Instead, it would be great if we could dress like superheroes or pirates whenever we felt like it, without getting weird stares from everyone else. I wish the Star Trek geeks could dress like Klingons without being quietly laughed at by humor columnists who happened to be eating my lunch at my favorite coffee shop during a sci-fi convention this past August.
Unfortunately, our sense of costumed adventure has been drummed out of us at an early age. It's okay if we dress up as our heroes when we're kids. It's dressing up when we're adults that seems to cause problems.
Admittedly, we do get a dress-up holiday at Halloween. It's the one time of year we can dress as someone we look up to, and people won't think anything about it. Of course, depending on who your heroes are, some people may still look at you weird.
"I told you, I'm Thonius Philips van Leeuwenhoek, the inventor of the microscope and the first person to observe single cell organisms! Come on, the 17th century Dutch clothes and the squinted eye should be a dead giveaway."
We should be able to dress up without fear of reprisal and recrimination by those less ... adventurous than the rest of us. People should be able to dress like a pirate - complete with puffy shirts, knee-high leather boots, and a saber hanging jauntily at their sides -- without people laughing or cracking jokes. I suppose with the saber, no one is going to laugh anyway. But the police might take a couple pot shots at you if you started waving it around at people.
When I was eight years old, I was a big fan of Marvel Comics' The Avengers, especially Giant Man. His power was that he could turn, well, giant.
I didn't like him because he was cool, like The Hulk or Thor. It was that he had a nice costume that I could easily color onto a white t-shirt with yellow and blue crayons. I knew a colored t-shirt wouldn't give me super powers, but there was a small part of me that hoped wearing it would somehow help me become Giant Man, even just a little bit.
I tried everything I could, including yelling "Shazam!" at the top of my lungs, but I never increased to Giant Man's massive size and strength. In fact, one of the neighborhood kids beat me up to show me that my t-shirt didn't do diddly in the super-powers department.
After that, I briefly considered changing my name to Target Man, but decided I had earned that name without a special costume. So instead, my Giant Man t-shirt went into the closet and never saw the light of day again. My dreams of being a superhero would have to wait for another day.
My son just turned four years old recently. For his birthday, he got a new Superman outfit and some kids' spy gear, complete with utility belt. We put the Superman outfit on him, and put the utility belt around his chest like a bandolier. He was so proud, because he knew he looked cool. My wife helped him fly, my daughters pretended to be in danger, and we called him Superman for the rest of the night.
I could tell by watching him that he really believed he was Superman. He was just waiting for a super-villain to burst in and try to wreck his birthday party, so he could save the day, while we mere mortals just stared in awe.
After the party, we had to run an errand at an office-supply store. On the way there, my little superhero fell asleep and was down for the count.
"Looks like somebody slipped Superman some kryptonite," my wife said.
We got to the store, and I carried him the entire time. He slept with his head on my shoulder and didn't wake up, no matter what happened around him.
When we got to the cash register, the cashier smiled. "Aww, Superman is all worn out," she said.
"Saving the world is hard work," I said softly, and carried the Man of Steel out to the car.
I'll let him figure out the truth about his costume when he's older. In the meantime, he and Giant Man should join forces. Some Klingons are moving into a house down the street.