My childhood friend David Keen and I had a lot of dreams, most of which — even at the ages of 8 and 9 — we had enough sense not to pursue.
There was one however, that we could not let go. We loved comic books, especially those that featured superheroes such as Superman, Batman, Spiderman, etc.
After pondering on it, obviously not long enough, David and I decided that Louisville, the small town where we lived, needed a pair of superheroes, and we were the obvious choices. While we were young, naive and in possession of absolutely zero super powers, we did at least have enough sense to decide we needed to practice.
I so wish I could remember the names we gave ourselves, I'm certain that I decided that David would be the sidekick (Robin to my Batman), while he was insisting it be the other way around.
One thing that we agreed upon was that if we were going to fight crime, especially in the middle of the night, we thought it might be wise to learn to "live off the land" during the daytime. Hey, you have to start somewhere.
Our superhero journey started across the street from my house. We lived on Old Ackerman Road when I was in the fourth grade, just across the street and a few houses down the road from David.
Across the street from me was the backside of a small three-building shopping center that would later become a huge part of my formative years, but that’s a story for another day… or two.
At this point, the business located at the south end of the shopping center was a laundromat. This facility was managed by an older woman who had quite an interesting set of ideas. One of them that she shared with us, which caused more than a few sleepless nights for David and myself I’m sure, was that she insisted that when man finally got close to landing on the moon that the moon would turn into a dragon and devour them. The look in her eyes couldn’t force you to believe her tall tale, but it certainly convinced me that she believed it — which was more than scary enough.
Well, on our first full day on the job as superheroes, David and I made it all the way from my house to the laundromat, a good 50 yards, before adversity set it.
Being famished from such a long walk, we decided we needed something to drink, so we raced into the laundromat and into the restroom, while the attendant watched us ever so closely. I locked the door to keep all the evil villains out.
I was skinnier and taller than David, so I decided to get my drink of water from the sink first. It was a success. I had managed to “live off the land” in my very first attempt. Next up was David.
Let’s just say that David was not as tall as me and not as skinny. In other words, he was short and “solid.” No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t get his mouth to the sink.
So I decided I would give him a boost. It was a success, He wedged his torso onto the edge of the sink then gingerly edged his mouth toward that precious water.
Then it happened.
The sink came loose from the wall, David came loose from the sink, and water began spraying wildly. Before I could even ask my trusty sidekick if he was okay, David had busted through the barrier of the bathroom door raced through the ominous herd of washing machines and dryers, bolted out onto the sidewalk and raced towards the safety of his trusty lair (his bedroom, most likely).
I was in shock, but knew that as a leader it was my duty to explain. I raced out of the bathroom, looked the attendant in the eye and as clearly and shrilly as any fast-talking, hard-to-understand fourth-grade superhero could enunciate as I headed for the door quicker than the Flash himself said the following: “Idontknowhathappenedsomethingfelldownwateriseverywherenobodyshurtdidntmeantowewillneverbebackpleasedontmakeyourdragoneatmebecausemydaddysgoingtokillmeanywayamen.”
I always thought it was best to complete a conversation about my own personal impending doom with an amen. It just seemed to make the whole thing a little more spiritual.
I’m not really sure what happened other than our parents fixed the sink, and both of us were officially retired from superherodom without much fanfare. We really, really wanted to protect our hometown, but it’s a difficult task to accomplish while you’re grounded.
Austin Bishop, AKA The Old Sports Dude, has been covering high school, college, amateur and professional sports since 1975. He is currently pastor of Great Commission Assembly of God in Philadelphia. He may be contacted by email at email@example.com.