by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
January 24, 2004
LOOK, UP IN THE SKY! IT'S SUPER ERIK!
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Kids have great imaginations. They fight pirates, fly through outer space, and travel the ocean floor in their own submarine, all from the safety of their own bed.
I was no different. When I was three years old, I had an imaginary friend. Actually, I had dozens of imaginary friends, all of whom I met watching Saturday morning cartoons.
I hung out with Scooby Doo and his teenage friends, and we would solve crimes around the house, like "who stole the cookie" and "where did my blanket go?" And because I was stronger, faster, and smarter than any of Scooby's team, I was in charge.
I had previously dethroned Fred and his sissy neck scarf, in a knock-down, drag-out battle for control. And after making him cry like a two-year-old girl, I assumed the mantle of leadership, which only looked like a neck scarf. But I still let Fred drive the Mystery Machine, because I was too short to see over the dashboard.
But I didn't limit myself to the Scooby Doo gang; I was also the co-leader of the Superfriends. I say "co-leader," because I shared the responsibility with Superman. After all, since Aquaman could only communicate with fish, and Batman was just a guy in tights, Superman was the only one with real powers.
And because I was only three, neither of us were able to actually defeat the other in a battle for leadership. (If I had been four, it would have been a completely different story). So, we agreed to co-lead the Superfriends, and had a grudging, yet hard-earned respect for each other.
I used to race around the house, my cape flowing behind me, taking care not to rip it, since I would need it for my bath later. I would call the names of all my superhero friends and talking dogs, and tell them to follow me as we chased the bad guys.
If you had heard me, it would have seemed the house was too filled with crimefighters to actually do any running, but we all managed to get around without bumping into each other.
However we were pretty awful crimefighters - I guess I wasn't much of a superhero leader - because we never actually caught any bad guys. We just ran after them for hours, from room to room, never actually catching anyone.
My daughters, on the other hand, don't have the same imagination I did. I fought supervillains and chased ghosts. But my oldest daughter has all the heart-wrenching melodrama of a made-for-tv movie on the Lifetime channel. She gets her inspiration from the saddest and most depressing parts of every Disney movie ever made.
I'll occasionally overhear the stage directions she provides her younger sister about their little melodrama.
Older daughter: Okay, you're an orphaned puppy whose parents were tragically killed when a gorilla started a stampede of wildebeests through the palace and they crushed Cinderella's glass slipper and the pieces of glass killed your parents and now I have to get medicine for you because you're very sick.
Younger daughter: No, I want Mommy!
Older daughter: You don't have a mommy. You're an orphaned puppy. Daddy, she won't be an orphaned puppy.
Younger daughter: Waaaah! Daddy, she said Mommy was dead!
My wife and I don't know where she gets these ideas. Ever since she was three, her imaginary playtime has always involved deep tragedies, like small children who are gravely ill, puppies who have been stolen from their families, and people who are attacked by gruesome monsters for no apparent reason.
We've tried to get her to play something less heart-wrenching and more upbeat, like when Bambi's mother got shot, but apparently this isn't tragic enough for her.
In addition to sick children and puppies, my daughter also loves a good romantic tragedy. She acts out stories that would win a Daytime Emmy if the networks ever hired her.
Whitney: Lance, please! Don't take the jewels. They were my mother's. She was killed by a flying shard of slipper glass.
Lance: I have to Whitney. I need them to buy medicine for a sick puppy.
Whitney: But I l-o-o-o-o-ve you!
Lance: Oh. Okay, here you go.
In a couple years, it will be my son's turn to create his own imaginary adventures, fight his own bad guys, and team up with his own heroes. I'll watch him run around the house with his bath towel flapping behind him. And I'll remember what it was like when the fate of the world rested on my own three-year-old shoulders.
Maybe he'll catch the bad guys for me.
This is my 300th column for the American Reporter. I'd like to thank my readers for sticking with me this long. And mostly, I'd like to thank editor Joe Shea for giving me the opportunity, and challenges, to become a better humor writer, six-and-a-half years ago. He'll also be pleased to know this isn't part of my regular word count.
Editor's Reply: Erik, the pleasure has always been mine. Thanks for the laughs!