A Short Free Comic Book Day Story

It’s been ages since my last visit to a comic book store. Sadly, I’m a bit out of touch.The Punisher, Daredevil, Hellblazer, V for Vendetta, Ghost World… These are all foreign to me. My experience with comics is PG at best. 

On Free Comic Book Day, I went to a local comic store to grab a few for my kids (they were off doing their own things). The store had several aisles full of comics, collections, and graphic novels. Some people were dressed in brilliant costumes. I was like Charlie Brown teleported into a Sandman story. Completely out of place. 

The true fans in the store where talking plot points, origins, and artists. They spoke with authority. I had trouble making sense of things. I couldn’t tell where to begin. Media overload. But I was the adult. I could be confident. And unlike the teenage guys and girls in the store, I didn’t have to wait until a check from my retail job cleared to cover any purchase. I thought, I was the cool one here, with good reason to relax. There was no reason to feel uncomfortable. 

I regained confidence, pulled 5 comics and a collection of Wonder Woman stories from the 1940s. I thought I'd sit down and go through them. Then through a crowd of people, I spotted Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns on a low shelf. Got real excited. I heard great things. I went down on one knee to have a look. As I reached for the first issue, my shorts ripped in the back from the top of the pocket down. 

Not so cool and relaxed as before. I looked up at a girl in a blue Summer dress and a guy in a Captain America costume. I knew they knew. Our eyes met. Captain offered a smile and a kind of "good luck with that, dude" expression. I was transported into some kind of super hero origin scene, where I was the pre-hero awkward kid with no developed special power, a prime target for bullies. I reached behind. It was a high tear. There was no concealing it. The four-leaf clover pattern on my boxers was exposed and certainly not bringing me any luck. I got up fast and rushed to the register to pay, not giving people an opportunity to look. 

In line to check out, a woman spotted the Wonder Woman collection in my hand. Big smile. She complimented me on the selection, wanted to strike up a conversation. But I just wanted to get out of there. So I paid, didn't take a bag, and bolted.

It turned out later that I was a different kind of comic hero, at least to my kids. They liked my selections, and had a huge laugh at my ripped shorts story.

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