I’m 57, and even though I look like a much younger, less attractive man, there is no denying that I am considered by some to be “old.”
Those people will tell you there are certain expectations that come with my age, and that I’m too long in the tooth to be enthusiastic about things such as comic books or superheroes.
Those people can kiss my ass.
I’m still fully immersed in the world that includes web-slinging and shield-wielding. Most importantly, I’m an even bigger Batman fan today than I was as a kid, and I make no apologies for it.
It’s not just a passing admiration for the Dark Knight – though I certainly do deeply respect his quest to mete out justice in a world that has lost its way – it’s really more of a lifestyle.
I have an entire room dedicated to Batman, one that includes action figures, wall art (my favorite is a Spanish-language poster for the 1966 movie) and even a Batman soap dispenser and toothbrush.
If you ever come to my house, I’ll let you see it for a quarter. And since it’s technically a bathroom, you can use it for $10 (plus a $5 non-refundable deposit).
I also have a Batman onesie that I wear from time to time.
It’s very stylish, with an old style logo on the front surrounded by a bright yellow oval.
People think I’m joking when I say I’ve actually worn it to the supermarket – but when it comes to Batman, I don’t kid; it’ not just fashionable, it’s functional.
And by the looks of both patrons and the deli staff, they like it, too.
I also have a wide variety of Batman tee shirts.
One sports the logo from the recent “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League” movies. Another is from the 2002 comic “Batman: Hush.”
I save the latter for special occasions, such as weddings and commitment ceremonies, (although I’ve been told that my obsession with The World’s Greatest Detective could lead to an entirely different commitment ceremony in the not-too-distant future).
I have a miniature Batman bust that speaks nine different lines, all more inspirational and motivational than the last.
My favorite is, “The joke’s on you, Joker.”
So where does this fascination come from?
My first memories of Bats date back to the campy TV series from the mid-1960s, although it wasn’t corny to me at all.
It was glorious to see Bruce Wayne and his alter ego fight colorful evildoers through the lens of a tilted camera, complete with picture words such as Boff! Splatt! and Zowie!
The show inspired me to sneak out on the porch after dark in a homemade cape and cowl, keeping my house safe from the forces of evil.
And it worked. We never got robbed once while I donned the suit, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
But then as I got older, I was introduced to the comics, which presented a serious crime fighter who dressed as a bat as a way to intimidate his enemies.
I was one of those kids who enjoyed playing sports, although I had to work twice as hard just to be half as good as my more athletic friends. Fantasy came easy for me, though. I loved to read and use my imagination, and I was drawn to this dystopian world where one heroic person tried desperately make a difference.
Of course at the time I didn’t think of Gotham City as dystopian because I didn’t know what the word meant. But whatever it was, I liked it.
And unlike other “superheroes,” it was conceivable I could actually be Batman.
Superman was an alien from the planet Krypton.
I was an Alabamian from the planet Earth.
Spider-Man seemed too far-fetched because the odds of being bitten by a radioactive spider are astronomical. I have been bitten by several spiders, but all of my attempts to crawl on walls have ended in embarrassment and minor injuries.
Captain America was injected with Super-Soldier serum, which is not available over the counter at Walgreens.
And Wonder Woman? She’s an immortal goddess from Themyscira. Plus, with my legs, there’s no way I could pull off wearing her costume.
But Batman was just a rich dude in tip-top physical shape who possessed a near-genius intellect.
I was none of those things … but in theory, I could’ve been all of those things.
So, I’ve seen every Batman-related movie several times, although 1997’s “Batman and Robin” counts as an act of self-harm (and I still believe Joel Schumacher should’ve served at least a few months in prison for directing the film).
And I continue to follow Batman in all other mediums, because even old guys still need heroes. And whether I’m 57, 67, 77 or 87, he’ll still be my Dark Knight in shining armor.
If that doesn’t seem age-appropriate to you, well, you can kiss me where the Bat-Signal doesn’t shine.