Monday, 19 March 2012
Too few characters out there, flying around like that, saving old girls like me.
Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them,
cheer them, scream their names. And years later,
they'll tell how they stood in the rain for hours
just to get a glimpse of the one
who taught them how to hold on a second longer.
Yesterday I saw a man assaulting a woman in the parking lot of a restaurant. She was my server, as friendly as can be. When I walked out the door, she walked out the door, and a man grabbed her, someone she knew, started choking her, threatening her, shaking her so hard I'm surprised he didn't snap her in two. Every instinct inside me told me to hurl myself at that man, to tackle him to the ground, to get him away from her no matter what. But he was jacked up and twice my size and who knows what he had in his pocket. So I called 911, gave a detailed description of what was happening, went home and cried myself sick.
I cried because I couldn't stop him. I cried because I didn't know if the police got there in time to see his hands around her neck, to take him away to jail. I cried because that woman was probably going home to him later, and if he'd choke her in daylight in a crowded parking lot, what would he do behind closed doors? I cried because the system is broken, because where could she go even if she wanted to get away? I cried because a month ago, I had to separate a little girl from her dog to take them to different shelters, because two months ago I walked out of a Manhattan bakery with a five-dollar donut right past a woman who was begging for change, because three years ago I bypassed a homeless woman in Munich who was using her one blanket to cover up her dog, because there's so much misery in this world and I can't do anything to stop the bleeding.
This week's Collective topic is: What's the oldest thing you own?
The oldest thing I own -- or, well, the oldest thing I ever saved up for and bought for myself -- is an autographed photo of Yvonne Craig as Batgirl. It hangs on the wall in my office next to framed prints of Batwoman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Mary Marvel. I've got prints of my favorite non-hero comic book characters dressed like heroes. Prints of my favorite non-hero TV characters dressed like The Doctor and his companion. I've got action figures, mugs, lunch boxes, Hermione's wand, TARDIS replicas, Gandalf's staff, books and books and books and books about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Last night, Amy petted my hair while I sobbed, petted my hair like she's been doing since we were kids. I said the thing I've been saying since I was a child: "If only I were Batgirl ..." And she said the same thing she's been saying for 18 years: "Even if you were, there would always be one more person to save."
Somehow it makes me feel better when she says that. Better because even imaginary heroes are inadequate sometimes. But I surround myself with those guys anyway, like I've always done for forever.
My favorite print I own is of Dean Trippe's "Butterfly." He's the sidekick of a sidekick, less powerful than Birdie who is less powerful than Knight-Bat -- but he's just sweet enough to think ice cream and love can change the world. I don't have a suit of body armor or a tricked-out motorcycle, but I do have sugary snacks. And so much love it breaks my heart into ten billion pieces some days.
If only caramel apples made me fly.
Posted by Heather Anne Hogan at 1:30 pm