“What do you want to do on your birthday?” Says the wife.
“Go to the comic book store.” Says I.
“Really?” Says the wife.
“Yup.” Says I.
I’m standing in between the aisles of brightly colored spandex heroes and sharply fanged drooling jaws of alien monsters. In my hands are two trade paperback collections of horror comics that I get my geek on with as often as possible. There is a slowly balding man wearing a spider-man t-shirt a few feet away. Two pimple faced teens argue over the best publisher of modern comics, IDW, Image or Dark Horse. The manager of the store is at the register putting price tags on used PS2 games.
Suddenly the wife grabs me, turns me around and plants a big kiss on my lips.
I hug her back, pull away and say, “I am standing in a comic book store and just kissed a beautiful girl. My fantasies just came true!”
The third Thursday of every month, my best friend and I would have our mother’s drive us to Continental Comics for new comic book day. We’d spend a few hours and all of our allowance on the latest issues of The Avengers, X-Men, GI Joe and even some Mack Bolan books if they had any.
We’d both drool over the collector editions of Star Wars action figures still mint in their unopened boxes. Full size replicas of Cylon helmets and Storm Trooper Rifles were much too pricey for our meager lawn mowing moneys. Once loaded up, we’d go back to one of our houses, lay everything out flat on the floor and debate over who scored the best haul of the day.
I’d fly through the evening’s homework, skip whatever Happy Days or Cosby Show episode was on and bury my face in the brightly colored, super defined musculatures to see how the bad guys evil plots were to be vanquished this episode. I could never choose what super power I wanted more. They all had their strengths that invaded my dreams. Flight, invisibility, laser beam eyes, walking through walls…I wanted them all!
Of course, none of this helped me with the ladies back then. Perpetually single for the majority of my school years, I spent my time either alone in the garage with a drum set or lost in the world of mutants and deeds of daring do. Once I realized that girls tended to be more interested in rock and rollers than tight wearing caped crusaders, I shifted my priorities a little bit. I never gave up the comics completely though.
Mostly I kept my habit on the down low. Hush hush wink wink know what I mean? My bookshelves filled with novels and “respectable” fiction. I hid the Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman masterpieces away in a drawer or in between some old stacks of vinyl records. Not because of shame or embarrassment, but honestly because I didn’t want to spend my adult bed life alone.
Fortunately for me, my wife knew the job was dangerous when she took it fourteen years ago. I bravely admitted to her my nerd leaning tastes. And not only did she accept them, she participated in most of them! I kinda scored.
So here we are more than a decade later. I’m flipping through stacks of plastic bagged, cardboard sleeved fantasies. My kids looking at their own favorites with smiling faces and the woman of my dreams kisses me for real. Comics are cool. Comic book stores are still some of my favorite places to spend an afternoon. Especially now that I get to do it with a real woman who loves me and my nerdishness.
Happy birthday to me indeed!