My 12-year-old stepson is a Batman fan. He has a Batman shrine on his dresser with bunches of figurines, books, and DVDs on display. He builds batarangs out of Legos. I could be reading on the couch, and suddenly he will glide by in his Batman costume. So, yeah, he's a fan.
When he discovered that Adam West and Burt Ward, the actors who played Batman and Robin on the 1960s television show, would be holding a panel at the Alamo City Comic Con - well, there was just no conceivable way he would miss it.
On Saturday, October 26th, 2013, we arrived at the convention. He dressed in full Batman regalia: cowl, cape, armor, and utility belt. I went total stepdad: jeans, sweat shirt, and sneakers. We were a classic pair that was ready to meet the dynamic duo.
But, just like there are days when there's no good place to get rid of a bomb, there are days when there's no good time to have a panel.
Originally, it was scheduled for noon, but then it was bumped to 3:00. We arrived early and got front row seats. But, a quarter after 3:00 and with the theater filled to the brim, it was bumped to 4:00 and changed locations.
A mass migration of fans hastily exited the theater. The people in back were first out of the theater. We, who were upfront, worried that we might not have great seats at the new location. My stepson especially wanted to get there quickly, but I told him to wait because I don't like being stuck in large crowds.
Batman's cowl covers most of any person’s face and, on my stepson, it's no different. Still, under that cowl, I could see he was worried that, maybe, he wouldn't even get to see Batman.
I don’t nerd out about Batman, but I have my moments – especially when it’s video game stuff. I wouldn’t want to miss a panel talk with Shigeru Miyamoto because my stepdad is uncomfortable in crowds. That’s a kind of resentment that sticks. So I set aside my own discomfort, and we joined the exiting stream of fans.
Our group approached the convention's main gallery (where the new location was) when staff members closed the doors on us. They politely asked us to form a line outside the convention center. They would let us in one at a time as room permitted.
Why? Because the convention was over capacity.
Some of the more vocal fans in our group didn't care.
"Open the doors! Let us in! We have to go to the Batman panel!"
I've never been trampled by an angry nerd mob, and I hadn't planned on it being something for my stepson and me to bond over. So we needed to get out of there.
A side door swung open, and a staff member announced that we could take an alternate route to the theater that went around the outside of convention center. I didn’t even wait for details; we took the detour.
At the new theater, we luckily grabbed two front row seats. The audience gave Adam West and Burt Ward a standing ovation. When it came time for Q&A, my stepson (SS) sprinted to the microphone. I could see why. With all the delays he experienced, he didn't want to leave anything else to chance.
This is what I remember of my stepson and Adam West's conversation:
SS: “Um, I want to say that I'm a huge Batman fan. I've been interested in Batman for about... 2 weeks, (crowd laughs) maybe a month! My question is, what was it like to put on the bat suit for the first time?”
West: “Well, let me ask you: what was it like for you to put on your bat suit for the first time?”
SS: “Like a miracle.” (crowd "ahhs")
West: “That's a really good answer. After we developed the project, did all the casting and got it off the ground, I went in and put on the bat suit for the first time. When I first looked at myself in the mirror, I thought, ‘They’re all going to laugh at me.’ I walked out to the set with it on, and it was dead quiet. Everyone was looking at me. Then I heard someone whisper, 'It's Batman.' It is sort of miraculous to put on the suit and embody the character that is Batman. I think you're onto to something, kid.”
As we left the convention, my stepson kept saying he couldn’t believe it. Not that he got tongue-tied and couldn’t express how big of a Batman fan he was. He couldn’t believe that Adam West talked to him.
To me, Adam West did a lot more. He showed me something new about my stepson. All that time he devotes to his shrine, his batarangs, and dressing like Batman is about more than just being a fan. It is how he pursues feeling miraculous.
You can contact the author of this post @marshnaylor