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When Batmania was everywhere
A brief picture of kid life in 1989
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Talking or even writing about things I haven’t experienced in my own life has never felt right to me. It’s probably because I’d rather discuss the topic semi-intelligently instead of adding no value whatsoever. However, it’s been brought to my attention over the last few years—on more than one occasion—that the Dark Knight Detective has become something of a speciality of mine.
Allow me, if you will, to briefly explain how this all came about and why it might actually be important.
Batmania gripped the world in 1989, and it’s no easy task to properly convey how things built to a fever pitch in the months leading up the movie’s June 23rd release date. You couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing Prince’s Batdance, and you certainly couldn’t go out in public without seeing someone in the crowd sporting a Batman t-shirt.
My late mother Natalie, a fan of the 1960s Adam West TV series, bought into the hype and hoopla too. While older Bat-fans were petitioning Warner Brothers to recast the title role, my saint of a mom was fighting the actual good fight—the war against an unrelenting ten-year old who pleaded for any available piece of Batman merch each time she went shopping.
One evening my entire family went to an upscale seafood restaurant and I was so entranced by the Topps-branded trading cards that I couldn’t put them down for the sake of something so trivial as eating.
School days were hardly different. There were bats in my brain. I even had Batman pocket folders in my Trapper Keeper for crying out loud.
Around this same time a classmate named Dave had developed a tendency to brawl with any boy smaller than himself, and being of the lover-not-a-fighter variety I wasn’t spared from his bullying. One day Dave picked a fight with my buddy Alex, which ended after I stood between them and my eyeglasses caught the glance of one of Dave’s right hooks.
Within moments our teacher Mrs. George (an older woman sporting a bouffant hairdo who was not to be trifled with) rushed the three of us to the principal’s office. Trembling before his desk we were all commanded to shake hands, and further charged with the task of finding a way to resolve our differences before we got back to our class. As we walked side by side down the hall, my heart pounded at the thought of what Dave might say or do the next time the teacher wasn’t looking. Before we took our seats Dave grabbed my shoulder and thumped the Bat-logo pin-back button affixed to my jean jacket, and said, “He’s kinda cool.”
Fancy that. The classroom bully and I had a common interest.
It’s only now in 2023 that can I see what a truly remarkable occurrence that was, and what it actually meant… The attraction of the Caped Crusader has the power to bring people together. Even the unlikeliest of people.
Thanks, Batman, for saving this dorky kid’s tuchus all those years ago.
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