I am 32. That’s what the math says. That’s what my less flexible than they used to be joints and less muscular physique say. The smattering of gray facial hairs are in agreement. Even my ability to be a trooper through a hangover is on board.
Despite the opinions of all the experts, I don’t feel 32. Physically, sure, but not mentally. In my mind, I’m 12. I act like I’m 12.
That’s not just me talking. It’s the various co-workers who note that I have no input on recent news stories because all I watch is cartoons and sports. It’s my wife rolling her eyes as I try to educate her on how the super heroes’ lives have been adapted somewhat during their transfer from comic book to movie screen. It’s my sons insisting that I finish the current level of the video game they can’t get past on their behalf and it’s the way they wait until I’m available to build their Lego Star Wars sets. It’s the way I purposely influence what toys they play with because I want to play with them too.
I was the age my oldest son is now when Transformers were originally released. I had (okay, HAVE) a collection that still occupies a few drawers of an old dresser in my parents’ basement. When the new movie came out and the toy lines hit the shelves, my sons found them under the tree at Christmas.
There are all sorts of ingenious marketing strategies involved here, timing movies and toys to be remade and re-released such that the kids who originally played with them will have their own kids. Marketing or not, it’s worked on me. I talk up toys that I want to play with to my sons. I whip them into a frenzy and convince them that the coolest things they could possibly want to play with are the toys I secretly want to play with while they’re asleep.
Thinking about the Transformers is when it hit me. Much like the toys that switch back and forth from giant, monstrous, fantastically awesome robots into ordinary, wouldn’t notice them on the street vehicles, designed to intentionally blend in with Earth society, I have somehow, inexplicably transformed into a father.
What’s more, I change back and forth from time to time, revealing my true nature to those I feel comfortable enough around. Optimus Prime avoided transforming into kick-ass robot form unless safety was at risk, otherwise the closed-minded humans might attempt to capture and study him. Of course, I just keep my secret in order to avoid getting made fun of by other adults, but you get the picture.
(DISCLAIMER: I know the original TV series didn’t involve humans, but battles between the Autobots and Decepticons on Cybertron. The movie’s storyline helps me make my point better, though. Please don’t criticize me too harshly for this.)
So, I hide. I don’t mention I like comic books until I’m pretty sure the human, er, person I’m about to reveal my secret to can be trusted. I act as if I know about all these toys because I’m opening packages and putting them together for my sons. I haven’t researched these toys ahead of time. I had no idea what their release dates were going to be. How absurd of you to suggest otherwise.
Yet, over time, I’ve realized there are more like me. The more often I share my secret, the more I find there are others who are the same. The closer I look, the more I discover adults with repressed imaginations flipping through comic books or intentionally walking slowly through the toy section that isn’t at all on the direct path to the cleaning supplies at Target.
I am sending a call out. To all my brothers and sisters hiding in plain sight. To all those children at heart who disguise themselves as mere parents, please know that you are not alone. You are safe here. There are others like you who have not been able to reveal themselves yet. Check back here regularly. Anonymously if you so choose. This can be our place to discuss our true selves, to advise one another on how to achieve the balance between our two sides, and to unite.
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