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Monday, April 8, 2013

Heroes Are Special Too

You know why April 8th is so special?

I don’t either.

It has to be special to someone. I figure it’s the birthday of roughly 1/365th (and a quarter) of the population of the planet, but beyond that – I’m stymied. Being stymied, though it might sound pleasant, is not good when you’re trying to put something up that people want to read twice a week.

But every day is special, just as every person is special – or so said Elastogirl in The Incredibles. But if you’ve seen the movie, you know her son Flash responded with the depressing and too true response of, “Which means nobody is.”

Back before Flash was a pixel in Brad Bird’s eye, I attempted to foist on the American public (I won’t tell you what public I was around before that,) my first article. It was about heroes, and specialness. It’s also in the increasingly UNPUBLISHED Headley Makes Sense, a chapbook Go Figure Reads is aggressively ignoring.

So in celebration of April 8thEvery Day Is Special Day – I present…


Let’s be honest, How do we really feel about heroes? If you saw a guy parading around in tights with a red cape would your first impulse be admiration?

As a child of the sixties I dutifully watched the myriad shows of hero propaganda. It was expected that we would not only view these shows, but that we would incorporate them into our dreams and aspirations. My brother used to sashay about with sword and black cape marking snow banks with a bold Z. George, the kid next door, leapt over tall rocks in a single bound. Being able (as all 7 year olds are) to read dog dreams I knew my poodle fantasized about being Rin Tin Tin. The choice one made about which hero to emulate had a mystic quality that we kids (and canines) knew without understanding. (Or did we understand without knowing?)

You might ask, “What about you buddy? What hero did you pick?”

That’s a pretty rude question and it makes me wonder if your parents raised you with any manners but I’ll answer it anyway.

I was Robin – you know, as in Batman and…

Yeah, I heard that snicker. Green shorts, red shirt and a yellow cape, I walked into Mrs. O’Hearn’s second grade class looking like a stop light with chubby legs. And everyone knew that I was Headley. The mask didn’t throw anyone off. I wonder if Dick Grayson had this problem? Far from the respect I was looking for, I actually got a bit of teasing about it. Which brings me to my question, how do we really feel about heroes?

Several years ago, the television world was taken by storm with Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules series. Snubbed by people wealthy enough to own a working TV, I rarely watched the show, but was fascinated with the response it evoked. Could it be that we as a society had reverted to our tastes of the early 60s? Shortly after Hercules became a hit, it produced the spin-off “Zena, Warrior Princess.” An ardent Zena fan (the opposite of a xenophobe?) informed me that the princess in question started out as a villain; that she murdered many innocent people, set villages afire and had shady dealings with a number of savings and loans before reforming her ways. Upon further investigation, I found that Hercules, having killed an innocent man, was sentenced to live 3 years as a transvestite (no, I’m not making this up, check Bullfinches’ Mythology). The Greeks were nothing if not innovative. Perhaps such creative sentencing might help our court system. (Don’t look at my hat Jack! I’m on parole!) My search for traditional hero worship continued, unsatisfied.

In recent decades, political candidates with exemplary records have finished a distant second to those of questionable character. Spin-masters try to tell us that the latter are heroes in disguise, but I think it’s time we faced facts. We’re just not a people comfortable with the honest, the noble, the brave. Few of us are willing to stand for the American way (whatever that is). How often do you see boy scouts in uniform, acts of self-sacrifice, or second graders dressed as questionable sidekicks?

So, you ask, am I here to move society from its wayward path; to reestablish honor and over-all good-guyliness; to bring back the fashion statements of Justice?!

Nah, don’t look at me, I’m no hero.