Saturday, August 6, 2011

KaraokeFanboy 3.0

Picture this: an eleven-year-old boy, hair so red his head might as well be on fire, pale white skin turning radioactive under the Arizona sun. He's playing in a big, empty field, soon to become a neighborhood but already littered with evidence of civilization, the water bottle fast food wrapper refuge of passing traffic. Something colorful catches the kid's eye, bright green against the desert sepia. He finds a broken toy frog, the kind you wind-up and that swims with you in the pool or bathtub. One of the frog's legs is broken off and laying nearby; otherwise, the thing looks brand new, not yet faded by summer's punishment. The boy can't stop glancing at it. He knows it's trash, probably accidentally tossed from a car window. But the thing looks brand new. So, he takes it home. He hardly ever plays with it, but it remains among his other toys. Among other toys is where it belongs.

Picture this, too: another boy: around the same age, but much, much bigger. He's screaming. Some might call it a bellow. And he's tearing the posters off of my office wall. Thankfully, I get the posters for free at Comic Con every year, but it hurts to watch, nevertheless. Who knows what set him off -- a friend didn't share something, maybe? Or maybe somebody touched him; he didn't like being touched a lot. Anyway, I was the boss, and I had an office, so let's put him in there and get back to having fun with the other kids, right?. You know, the normal kids that don't go from passive to postal at eight in the morning. Okay, so I'm watching him destroy my office when he recognizes Booster Gold on a Justice League International poster. Booster Gold isn't your Superman/Spider-man/Lone Ranger household superhero, so I'm curious. He can name every member of the JLI '87. Rocket Red, for crying out loud. The storm calms, then passes, and never reaches that fevered pitch again, for the years we know each other. We have a cure.

One more: I'm sitting at Starbucks. Don't judge me: it was open 'til midnight in that college town. And a college kid comes up to me, slowly at first. (I call him a "kid" -- he was probably 17, and I was probably 28, and he probably could've kicked my ass?) "Mr. K.?" he asks cautiously. I know the name. The kids called me "Mr. K." when I was a third grade teacher's assistant, because my last name shouldn't exist in a third grader's vocabulary. "Yes?" I answer. He reminds me who he is and tells playground stories we shared like that happened yesterday and I'm flattered, clueless, and embarrassed I don't remember him that much, but what are you gonna do? He concludes with, "I still have that Daredevil picture you drew for me. It's up in my dorm room." I do that math. That's a ten year old drawing. And it's probably terrible. But he kept it. It's cool enough to hang up in his dorm room.

Where it belongs.