Batman: Rest in Peace, Adam West Me: “Batman just died.” Ex-girlfriend: “Which one?” Me: “The real one.”   We did not get out much when I was a child. For some unknown reason my parents, about once a year, would take us to a home and garden show. Maybe my dad liked to see all the things he could have owned if he had not had so many children? I don’t know.   But there he was! He seemed ten feet tall to me as I looked up at him. I could not have been in kindergarten yet. Standing in front of me in his black cape and cowl was my hero, Batman.  He had left Gotham unprotected to come to Des Moines, Iowa. For the life of me, I could not figure out why in the world the Caped Crusader would want to hang out at a home and garden show, but it was him. I had seen too many of his battles on TV against the Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, and the Penguin not to know the real deal when I saw it. Underneath his black and gray costume with the yellow and black bat symbol on his chest on that busy convention floor was millionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne.  The real deal. The Batman!   I had practiced what to say to him a thousand times. Some children have invisible friends. I had Batman. I cannot remember when Batman had not been a part of my life. My first Halloween costume was a homemade Dark Knight costume, which meant he was a big deal in my life. My mom, with so many boys running around the house and a baby sister on her knee, barely had a chance to breathe, let alone make a Batman costume for me.   She made it for me because my older brothers had no interest in him. They were never filled with the romance of jumping off of steps and out of trees, their little hands grabbing the tips of the cape and going to one knee like me. Although the faint scar I still have on my ankle confirmed that Batman did not ride his bike with his cape on. Material that flows behind you in the wind and bicycle spokes are not a good combination.   Given that I went through a naked stage about that time, there is a pretty good possibility that a neighbor lady or two picked up a three or four year old dressed in just a cape and cowl walking down to the highway to go into town to fight crime or at least opened their curtains in the morning to find that it was not the Bat-signal pressed against their freshly washed windows. After which they were informed, “I am Batman,” as an almost nude little boy disappeared into the early morning light, his cape flowing behind him.   I loved that costume, and would have gone as Batman every Halloween if I could have, but my mother insisted I wear a warm coat over it as she drove me to family friends and neighbors to trick or treat. How was I to show people that their neighborhood was safe, that Batman was there to protect them, with a coat covering up my costume? Batman’s mom would never have made him wear a coat even on a crisp Iowa night.  Of course, she was dead, lucky duck.   Looking at photos decades later that a neighbor took of me. The cowl twisted. A stock of blonde hair poking through one of the eyeholes. My left eye barely protruding out the other. A huge smile on my face. Why she did not encase me in in reflective tape so I did not get hit by a car is beyond me. That poor woman.   I had a Mego Batman action figure; that I had gotten from my friend Chris Peterson. Next to my cap guns, it was my favorite toy to play with. My action figure and I spent hours playing together. After my dogs, which did not enjoy having capes tied around their necks, he was my faithful chum in my war against evil until he melted while investigating the case of my sister’s Easy Bake Oven. He died knowing that several plastic green army men and him had saved the world from anymore fiendish cake batter cooked over a light bulb being fed to an unsuspecting public. It was the way any hero would gladly have gone out.   Even though I could not read yet, there were dozens of coverless Batman comics lying around the house that I would stare at. (Comics used to be sold in grocery stores.  The publishers offered a refund to these stores for unsold copies, but sending entire comic books back to the publisher was prohibitively expensive. So, the publisher would just have them cut off the front cover, send these clippings back and ask the retailer to throw out the comic. Instead, storeowners would bundle these comics and sell them at an incredibly reduced price. It was free money for them. Proving crime does pay. I remember finding a newly created villain named Man-Bat particularly terrifying. His name pretty much summed him up, he was a giant man- like bat, except for the purple Hulk-like pants he wore. Even a giant bat was bashful.   Batman in my mind was Adam West. He talked like Adam West, moved like Adam West, and conducted himself like Adam West. They were one and the same. The highlight of my days began and ended at the “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.” Well, it was reruns by the time I came rolling around. So, the time and station varied, and ultimately the real battle was not on the small screen, but which sibling got to control the TV. That sometimes involved more “bangs,” “kapows,” “krunches,” and “klonks” than ever appeared on any episode of Batman. Again, my poor mother.      Little children don’t understand camp. They don’t understand dialogue that is delivered firmly tongue in cheek or that some shows never meant to take themselves seriously. In their minds fantasy and reality mix, flow one into the other, and interact.  Ridiculous situations are accepted as perfectly normal. You accepted that Batman would dance the Batusi in a nightclub, that the Batmobile stopped for ducks crossing the street, and that Batman and Robin would find themselves trapped in Looney Toon-like situations.  They didn’t watch Batman for the reason a teenager of that era might have (puff, puff, pass) or even adults.    Adam West pulled it off because he acted like he was never in on the joke, never gave a wink or nod to the camp. While the entire show was farce, Adam West was the most serious of all the actors who have ever played Batman. Was he hammy? Yes. But he always acted the way a superhero would have. Adults enjoyed the campy humor, teenagers rubbed their blood-shot eyes, and children got a superhero they could look up to.   Plus, everyone got to enjoy Julie Newmar dressed in the tightest black leather outfit ever seen on television, Burt Ward as the Boy Wonder, and Yvonne Craig as Batgirl with her ballet-like combat moves.   I have a great deal of fondness for Yvonne Craig. I got to spend some time with Ms. Craig a few years ago. She had stopped doing conventions, because she claimed, “No one wants to see an old lady like me.” I just saw the woman who danced with Elvis, kissed Captain Kirk, and fought crime with Batman, perhaps the coolest chick ever. She did not tell me she was battling cancer.     During our interaction, I off-handedly mentioned that my three-year-old niece was into the Disney princesses, but that I hoped she would move onto superheroes like Batgirl someday. It was just something I threw out in a conversation.   Less than a week later, a letter arrived in the mail addressed to the three-year-old, for her eyes only. It was note and a small object from Batgirl. It basically told her, while some little girls are born princesses, inside every little girl is a superhero. If she believed in herself enough, someday she would find it. Yvonne Craig died a short time later. Here was a woman that was dying, who probably had a hundred better things to do in this world and took a few moments to write encouraging words to a little girl she never met. That is the kind of thing superheroes would do. That is the kind of thing Batman would do.   I can remember standing on that convention floor years ago, not even in kindergarten yet, looking up at Adam West.  There were a thousand things I wanted to say to him. Here was the real Batman. I went to talk and nothing came out. Instead all I could do was run at him as hard as I could and hugged him with everything inside of me.   If there is an afterlife, I hope God embraces him like I did for all he meant to thousands and thousands of little boys out there who found a worthy superhero in him and gave them an ideal to live up to. Find that superhero in you.    
Batman: Rest in Peace, Adam West Me: “Batman just died.” Ex-girlfriend: “Which one?” Me: “The real one.”   We did not get out much when I was a child. For some unknown reason my parents, about once a year, would take us to a home and garden show. Maybe my dad liked to see all the things he could have owned if he had not had so many children? I don’t know.   But there he was! He seemed ten feet tall to me as I looked up at him. I could not have been in kindergarten yet. Standing in front of me in his black cape and cowl was my hero, Batman.  He had left Gotham unprotected to come to Des Moines, Iowa. For the life of me, I could not figure out why in the world the Caped Crusader would want to hang out at a home and garden show, but it was him. I had seen too many of his battles on TV against the Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, and the Penguin not to know the real deal when I saw it. Underneath his black and gray costume with the yellow and black bat symbol on his chest on that busy convention floor was millionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne.  The real deal. The Batman!   I had practiced what to say to him a thousand times. Some children have invisible friends. I had Batman. I cannot remember when Batman had not been a part of my life. My first Halloween costume was a homemade Dark Knight costume, which meant he was a big deal in my life. My mom, with so many boys running around the house and a baby sister on her knee, barely had a chance to breathe, let alone make a Batman costume for me.   She made it for me because my older brothers had no interest in him. They were never filled with the romance of jumping off of steps and out of trees, their little hands grabbing the tips of the cape and going to one knee like me. Although the faint scar I still have on my ankle confirmed that Batman did not ride his bike with his cape on. Material that flows behind you in the wind and bicycle spokes are not a good combination.   Given that I went through a naked stage about that time, there is a pretty good possibility that a neighbor lady or two picked up a three or four year old dressed in just a cape and cowl walking down to the highway to go into town to fight crime or at least opened their curtains in the morning to find that it was not the Bat-signal pressed against their freshly washed windows. After which they were informed, “I am Batman,” as an almost nude little boy disappeared into the early morning light, his cape flowing behind him.   I loved that costume, and would have gone as Batman every Halloween if I could have, but my mother insisted I wear a warm coat over it as she drove me to family friends and neighbors to trick or treat. How was I to show people that their neighborhood was safe, that Batman was there to protect them, with a coat covering up my costume? Batman’s mom would never have made him wear a coat even on a crisp Iowa night.  Of course, she was dead, lucky duck.   Looking at photos decades later that a neighbor took of me. The cowl twisted. A stock of blonde hair poking through one of the eyeholes. My left eye barely protruding out the other. A huge smile on my face. Why she did not encase me in in reflective tape so I did not get hit by a car is beyond me. That poor woman.   I had a Mego Batman action figure; that I had gotten from my friend Chris Peterson. Next to my cap guns, it was my favorite toy to play with. My action figure and I spent hours playing together. After my dogs, which did not enjoy having capes tied around their necks, he was my faithful chum in my war against evil until he melted while investigating the case of my sister’s Easy Bake Oven. He died knowing that several plastic green army men and him had saved the world from anymore fiendish cake batter cooked over a light bulb being fed to an unsuspecting public. It was the way any hero would gladly have gone out.   Even though I could not read yet, there were dozens of coverless Batman comics lying around the house that I would stare at. (Comics used to be sold in grocery stores.  The publishers offered a refund to these stores for unsold copies, but sending entire comic books back to the publisher was prohibitively expensive. So, the publisher would just have them cut off the front cover, send these clippings back and ask the retailer to throw out the comic. Instead, storeowners would bundle these comics and sell them at an incredibly reduced price. It was free money for them. Proving crime does pay. I remember finding a newly created villain named Man-Bat particularly terrifying. His name pretty much summed him up, he was a giant man- like bat, except for the purple Hulk-like pants he wore. Even a giant bat was bashful.   Batman in my mind was Adam West. He talked like Adam West, moved like Adam West, and conducted himself like Adam West. They were one and the same. The highlight of my days began and ended at the “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.” Well, it was reruns by the time I came rolling around. So, the time and station varied, and ultimately the real battle was not on the small screen, but which sibling got to control the TV. That sometimes involved more “bangs,” “kapows,” “krunches,” and “klonks” than ever appeared on any episode of Batman. Again, my poor mother.      Little children don’t understand camp. They don’t understand dialogue that is delivered firmly tongue in cheek or that some shows never meant to take themselves seriously. In their minds fantasy and reality mix, flow one into the other, and interact.  Ridiculous situations are accepted as perfectly normal. You accepted that Batman would dance the Batusi in a nightclub, that the Batmobile stopped for ducks crossing the street, and that Batman and Robin would find themselves trapped in Looney Toon-like situations.  They didn’t watch Batman for the reason a teenager of that era might have (puff, puff, pass) or even adults.    Adam West pulled it off because he acted like he was never in on the joke, never gave a wink or nod to the camp. While the entire show was farce, Adam West was the most serious of all the actors who have ever played Batman. Was he hammy? Yes. But he always acted the way a superhero would have. Adults enjoyed the campy humor, teenagers rubbed their blood-shot eyes, and children got a superhero they could look up to.   Plus, everyone got to enjoy Julie Newmar dressed in the tightest black leather outfit ever seen on television, Burt Ward as the Boy Wonder, and Yvonne Craig as Batgirl with her ballet-like combat moves.   I have a great deal of fondness for Yvonne Craig. I got to spend some time with Ms. Craig a few years ago. She had stopped doing conventions, because she claimed, “No one wants to see an old lady like me.” I just saw the woman who danced with Elvis, kissed Captain Kirk, and fought crime with Batman, perhaps the coolest chick ever. She did not tell me she was battling cancer.     During our interaction, I off-handedly mentioned that my three-year-old niece was into the Disney princesses, but that I hoped she would move onto superheroes like Batgirl someday. It was just something I threw out in a conversation.   Less than a week later, a letter arrived in the mail addressed to the three-year-old, for her eyes only. It was note and a small object from Batgirl. It basically told her, while some little girls are born princesses, inside every little girl is a superhero. If she believed in herself enough, someday she would find it. Yvonne Craig died a short time later. Here was a woman that was dying, who probably had a hundred better things to do in this world and took a few moments to write encouraging words to a little girl she never met. That is the kind of thing superheroes would do. That is the kind of thing Batman would do.   I can remember standing on that convention floor years ago, not even in kindergarten yet, looking up at Adam West.  There were a thousand things I wanted to say to him. Here was the real Batman. I went to talk and nothing came out. Instead all I could do was run at him as hard as I could and hugged him with everything inside of me.   If there is an afterlife, I hope God embraces him like I did for all he meant to thousands and thousands of little boys out there who found a worthy superhero in him and gave them an ideal to live up to. Find that superhero in you.