. . . . . .
Young victim Kevin suffered Intimidation and Charades at the hands of a lonely local bully.
It’s Christmas 1968, and Kevin is about to have an encounter involving two of his major childhood icons, in the final chapter of The Fraternity of the Different:
> SANTA & BATMAN
. With December 1968, came another Yuletide season. Following the annual gift-giving ritual, my Father snapped a photo of all six Keelan kids cheerfully holding up their favorite gifts for the camera. For me there was no contest. Santa had delivered young Kevin a Batman Stop’n’Go set. The cover drawing depicted a sleek, shiny model of the iconic Batmobile careening around on a tubular plastic track and knocking over cardboard facades of the dynamic duo’s flamboyant arch-villains. Excellent!
. There was only one small problem. When I eagerly tore off the cellophane and opened the box, the crucial Batmobile was not there. Missing. Gone. Somehow, it had been left out of the box at the factory. I was heartbroken. My favorite gift was a bust. But Dad stepped forward to offer comfort, assuring me that Santa had a “special arrangement” with the local merchant Clark’s Drug Store. Parents could turn in defective toys there and Santa would arrange to deliver a fresh replacement. (Strange, I had not heard of this arrangement…)
. After several weeks of nagging him about it, my Dad finally took me in to exchange my deficient gift. But when we showed the cashier the box, he frowned and told us he was sorry, but they didn’t have another Batman Stop’n’Go in stock. Perhaps I might want some other kind of Stop’n’Go, or some other substitute? After a quick perusal of the toy section, where I couldn’t find anything I wanted half as much as my Batman Stop ‘n’ Go, the clerk ordered a replacement, promising to phone the minute it arrived. By way of consolation, my dad bought us both double-scoops of yummy ice cream.
. As we walked wordlessly out the back door of Clark’s Drug Store, my Father slipped his arm lazily around my neck. There was an unusual silence between us. My Dad broke the spell as we approached the car to go home.
. “You know, Kev, there really is no such thing as Santa Claus. He’s just a part of the spirit of giving…”
. Duh. No shit, Dad! I’d known about the Santa Claus Conspiracy for years by then. Where had he been while I was going through those kind of awakenings? Off gallivanting while his children grew up without him. (I wondered if he thought I believed Batman was real!) It was kind of sweet nonetheless, a rare and treasured father-son bonding moment I will never forget.
. If that special-order ever came in to Clark’s Drug Store I never heard about it. No one ever told me. I never did get a working Batman Stop’n’Go. (One of the great tragedies of my youth…)
. These were the icons of a swiftly-passing childhood: Christmas and family. Santa… and Batman.
> FINAL CODA – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
. Being noticeably different, changed from being a liability to an asset, when I discovered drama in the eighth grade. The Geek World of theatre welcomed, even encouraged flamboyance and idiosyncrasy. In fact, if I wanted to claim my place in the social limelight, I would have to accentuate and exaggerate my personality to stand out from all the other non-conformist thespians, clamoring desperately for attention. Once I became a big-man-on-campus through Play Production class, kids from Normal World seemed less concerned with my “differentness”, and school was a more accommodating place. Square-peg/round-peg, what did it matter? Live and let live. I had found my groove and as a result, the world was a considerably rosier place.
. At this point in my life, all those decades later, I wear my membership brand in The Fraternity of the Different with acceptance and gratitude. I mean- who wants to be like everyone else?
. “Different”, is a flag I fly proudly.
Stories taken from the trilogy: “SEX! DRUGS!! ROCK ’n’ ROLL!!!” in TALES FROM A WINDBAG, Vol. 63…
© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.