A while back, I made a comment on social media about Donald Trump officially being selected by the Electoral College. My comment mentioned the Marvel Comics character The Watcher and how, in the comics, he shows up when terrible thing happen.
A lot of people liked the comment and replied with their own. But one comment stuck out. In it, the person said,
“Another person that doesn’t know the difference between reality and fantasy.”
After a few people mocked him and defended me, and eventually he added,
“a grown man who plays with kids toys, reads comics, and has been waiting a whole year for a Star Wars movie to come out doesn’t know the difference between reality and fantasy.”
It kinda irked at first. But then I realized how sad it would be to think like that, and I took pity on him. But, it also reminded me of something that happened years ago, in my late teens.
But first, I’ll give you a bit of my own history. I have been a geek all my life, looong before it was cool. I collected comics, played with action figures (aka dolls for boys), and watched cartoons, which I still do today. It also helped that my brother-in-law was a big kid as well. He loved comics, cartoons, and video games.
But, there were periods in my teenage years that I questioned and even felt embarrassed about my geeky affections. Being a teenager is hard enough, without having to try and fit in and hide the fact you collect comics and play with toys. But once incident brought all of this into sharp focus, and it culminated with my crush on a girl.
In hindsight, I can say honestly, without pettiness or hard-feelings, that she was a manipulator. This information doesn’t just come from me, but my friends, her friends, and people who were around her. And, being an inexperienced, teenaged boy with a crush on her, I was quite easy to manipulate.
Besides being a geek, I was a good ol’ boy. I loved country music, living in the country, and wearing jeans and t-shirts pretty much all the time. This girl didn’t think much of my attire. She would make little comments about what I wore and try to make me believe that jean and t-shirts were fine, but dressing “nice” or “looking like a grown-up” would be better.
In the end, she convinced me to buy new clothes, nice pants and shirts. No more jeans and t-shirts, especially ones with prints on them. In short, she tried to make me over into an image that was more pleasing to her. Being a stupid teenager, I went along with it, especially if she liked me more and looked “cool”. At a time when you straddle the line between being a kid and being “grown-up”, people and advertising telling you what to do, to wear, to listen to, etc., I was torn.
As nice as some of the clothes were, I soon realized that it wasn’t me. I felt like I was pretending to be someone else. This helped me see the kind of person she really was, and eventually, I went back to my old ways. The one good thing that came from this was that I appreciated nice clothes more.
More importantly, I learned that we always have to be true to ourselves. Although she was trying to dress me up as someone else, I was still that jean-and-t-shirt-wearing geek.
As I got older, and began to take on my adult responsibilities, I still enjoyed that things I did in my youth. I loved comic books, cartoons, and collecting/ displaying my toys. Besides enjoying it, I also found inspiration from them for when I started to take my writing seriously. Now, well into my 40’s, I display and collect even more stuff than I did before.
Honestly, I think many of us could use a little of our childhood with us in the present day. The world doesn’t seem to be getting better. Climate change. Terrorism. Mass shootings. Super bugs. A psychotic President of the United Stated. You name it, reality is not what it was. It can be brutal, harsh, dispassionate, apathetic, etc.
It is in these days that many of us need a break from reality. We need to get away from it and remember the things we loved and enjoyed. That is why these new Star Wars movies are doing so well. Because people my age are taking their kids to experience a sample of what they experienced decades before. It may also be the reason “geekiness” is so popular and acceptable. The Big Bang Theory is one of the most popular shows because the characters on the show, “adults”, still enjoy their geekiness.
Reality can also benefit from sci-fi and fantasy. Everything from satellites, cell phones, home computers, even flying machines have benefited from the fact that someone imagined them before they became reality. There was a time when everything we now enjoy was a flight of fancy created by some writer. Even ideals, like those from Star Trek, can have a positive affect on reality.
For anyone to dismiss anything of fantasy, and considers it a negative thing in any time period, is dismissing what could someday be reality. It is to dismiss the creativity of those who would dream of something better, something that makes a statement on reality, or something that is just an escape from reality, if only briefly.
That’s why I pity that guy. Either he lives a very boring life, he can’t understand the importance of escaping reality, or he is afraid to embrace the things he loves. That is no way to live.
I may have become an adult, but I’ll never grow-up. Keeping my inner child close, holding onto dreams and innocence, could very well be the most important thing adults do.