A few friends of mine love to ask for my opinion as to who would win if Batman fought Superman. Now that the trailer for the upcoming film epic has been released, I’m sure they’ll ask again soon. These knuckleheads also enjoy asking me whether the Flash is faster than the Silver Surfer and whether the Hulk is stronger than the Thing. They don’t ask me these questions because of my vast knowledge of fictional superheroes. They ask to annoy me, and because they seem to enjoy my stock answer:
“I’m a grown-assed man, ferchrissakes! Why would I waste my time even considering such an idiotic question?!”
Like most kids of my generation, I watched Superman and Batman on TV. By Superman, I’m referring to a character played by a paunchy George Reeves on a snowy, black and white screen.
By Batman, I mean a character played by a paunchy Adam West – shot in color but viewed on a Sears black and white TV with an antenna clad in wads of aluminum foil.
By the time Hollywood started making special effects-laden blockbusters about these characters, I had already outgrown men in capes and moved on to women in tights (not necessarily super heroines, just women – and not necessarily in tights for that matter). I went through a brief transitional period which my therapist often refers to as my “Julie Newmar as Catwoman” phase.
Despite my ardent attention to Ms. Newmar, I don’t think I ever considered whether she would win in a battle with Diana Rigg as Emma Peel. Irrespective of who would have won, I would have paid my entire allowance for a year to have had a ring-side seat for that clash.
I know that the world is full of unanswerable questions; things like the meaning of life, our fates after death, and why Donald Trump’s hair looks like it does. These are all things we’ll never truly know. Despite their unanswerable nature, we’re destined to ask them again and again.
As for Batman versus Superman, my answer is a shrug of the shoulders accompanied by a roll of the eyes. I’m just amazed that so many people seem to truly care enough to even have an opinion. My only guess is that whichever superhero wins the first battle will lose in the sequel.
My wife hates it when I shave my head. She’d much prefer that I keep my hair short. Very short – like 3/32 of an inch. I have to admit, I look pretty good with that length hair, but it only stays that length for a day or two. It soon grows out and before you know it, those damn hairs are trying to move in a direction other than straight out of my scalp. Within another couple of days, the more rebellious among them are sticking out around my ears. 48 hours after that, I look like a reasonably well dressed homeless guy.
For a long time, I operated under the delusion that my wife’s problem with my shaved head was based on jealousy or territoriality. When I have hair, I look for all the world like your typical older guy with male pattern baldness, but when I shave my head clean, I look like a cool guy who shaves his head (who probably has a receding hairline – but who doesn’t care, because he shaves his head). Since I work with many women, it was obvious to me that my wife was concerned that I just looked too damn good with a freshly shaved dome. My clean pate took me out of the realm of the pedestrian, safe hubby and put me in the group of happening dudes of indeterminate age. Who could blame her for worrying about that? Here I was, looking so rugged, and at least 5 years younger than my birth certificate reflected. For the record, my head has a beautiful shape. I’m not one of those guys with the brain wrinkles all over my scalp or a strange outcropping which may or may not be a steel plate from an unfortunate teeter-totter accident as a child. My scars are few and my ears do not stick out. If my ego requires any reinforcement, I need only to listen to the women at work tell me how great my shaved head looks.
In reality, the difference between my shaved head and the one version with hair 3/32 of an inch long is…about 3/32 of an inch. Essentially, I don’t look much different with the shaved head or with the short short hair. Still, the battle wages on. I realize that letting it grow out that tiny bit is a small price to pay for peace in the household. By the same token, it is MY head. I have never, in decades of wedded bliss, tried to impose a single bit of my personal taste onto the hairs on my lovely wife’s head. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have occasionally asked that my wife wear certain fashions, and she has largely ignored me, but not before calling me a pervert and stating that those clothes and shoes are for prostitutes and short women who want to look taller.
Then the other day, I recalled a day in high school and my self-confidence was shaken. One of the girls in my homeroom had made a rather drastic decision at the stylist. She came into school looking as though she had had multiple wads of gum cut out of her hair the day before. She showed up and the girls immediately began fluttering around her and cooing about her dramatic new style. How it framed her face, took 10 pounds off of her butt and made her look like a some TV star no one could quite name. She blushed and said that she was nervous that she looked as though someone had cut gum out of her hair. The girls all reiterated their earlier opinions. Later, when she was gone, the girls talked about her in much less glowing terms.
“Ohmygoddd!” they cackled, ” Did you see that hair? She looked like she was mauled at the zoo”
Suddenly, I had to take a step back. I wondered if the women I see daily were feeding me compliments sincerely or because they didn’t want me to burst into tears, run out of the cafeteria and quit the pep squad. They had seemed so honest, but the seeds of doubt had begun to germinate.
I checked myself in the mirror, but as always, I just looked like me.
Obviously, there was no easy answer. As I often do in times of trouble, I skirted the main issue and tried to figure out what was wrong with my wife. Why did she have such a deep-seated dislike of the shaved male head? It wasn’t just mine, she hated almost all shaved heads. Movie stars, athletes, that weird dude at the DMV – no one with a razor and a Y chromosome was safe from her disapproval.
(This next part is best if read with a silly German accent – kind of like early Schwarzenegger meets Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes) Vee heff to azzume dat any deep zeated hatred must be bazed in zee childhood experienz…ziss voman must heff had zome early expozure to zome bald head az a child vich to ziss day cauzez dis revulzion.
(Back to the other voice in your head) That’s it! My wife must have a problem with my shaved head because of something which she experienced as a child! Perhaps a family member was responsible. I tried, but could not recall seeing a single shaved head in all of her family photos.
In our childhood era, there were relatively few famous people with shaved heads. There was Yul Brynner of the “King and I” fame. He was also in that western where he played a robot (I know it was “West World”, but I’ve already lost half of you – why make it worse?). I don’t think Yul had that much of an impact on my wife’s childhood. Otto Preminger was known to play a clean shaven, evil Nazi back in the day. Otto is also not much of a candidate. Telly Savalas? Could my wife be comparing me to Kojak?! Who loves ya, baby? I rejected this premise, it had to be something from even earlier in her childhood to make this big of an impact.
Then it struck me! The show all of us kids watched was Batman! I can’t begin to fathom the depth of the impact that show had on my generation. Just to clarify for my younger readers, I’m not talking about the highly successful, dark movie franchise where the likes of Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and Christian Bale portrayed the caped crusader complete with washboard-ab suits, villains who actually killed people and cool special effects. No, no, no children; I’m talking about the corny TV show, where Adam West and Burt Ward taught my peers and me about men in tights. It was where my generation learned that even superheroes could have a little paunch hanging over their utility belts. We discovered that no predicament couldn’t be overcome if you had enough cool gadgets in that aforementioned utility belt. On a side note, that utility belt idea may shed a little light on that box in my garage full of Palm Pilots, stud finders and early foot/inch calculators.
One of the few similarities the TV show had to the movie series was the appearance of significant stars in the roles of villains. People with legitimate Hollywood and Broadway pedigrees showed up to play them; Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, Art Carney and the creepy, ever -flaky Vincent Price as Egghead.
Of course! I see it now! Vincent Price! He was usually dressed in a white tuxedo complete with a poorly fitting bald cap and yolk-yellow shirt to give him that farm-fresh egg look. Could anything possibly scar a young girl watching TV in those days as much as a hairless, lisping, creepy villain dressed like an usher at the wedding of the Man from Glad? Clearly Vincent Price’s depiction of Egghead had traumatized my lovely bride when she was only a tot! The episodes featuring Egghead would inevitably revolve around him stealing a Faberge-type Egg or an egg-shaped diamond from the Gotham Museum, and the fight scenes typically involved hundreds of raw eggs being smashed on hero and henchmen alike, accompanied at some point in the melee with a big cartoon bubble with the word “CRACKK!” in it. The smashed raw eggs probably fueled the fire for my future wife’s fledgling status as a little bitty vegetarian.
Here I’d thought my wife was who she was because of the complex combination of nature and nurture when it was because of Batman all along. I feel a little better now, knowing that her revulsion about my shaved head is most likely entirely Vincent Price’s fault.
All this childhood-TV-centered psycho analysis has me beginning to wonder whether there’s any Batman connection behind my wishes to have my wife occasionally dress up in sequined cat suits and stiletto heels. Could Julie Newmar be behind this somehow? Will our hero figure out a way to get out of his precarious perverted pickle! Will he fix his feline fashion fetish?!? Tune in next time….Same Bat-time! Same Bat-channel!