For his birthday, Buster wanted a Batman-themed party. The great thing about three-year-olds’ parties is you don’t have to rent out a hall to satisfy them. As long as you have cupcakes, pizza, and few of his closest friends, you can spend two hours in your own living room, hosting the best party he’s ever had.
The great thing about three-year-olds is that their closest friends are whichever few kids they happen to be playing with. There’s no need to look up his old army buddies.
Batman cupcakes and a few Batman party favors meant this party was about 10% of the cost of the party he’ll require in three years. With some of the windfall savings, my wife picked up an adult Batman costume, because what little kid wouldn’t love a surprise visit from a masked man?
She wanted someone none of the children would recognize to wear the costume. It’s not as easy as you might think to get an affirmative reply to, “Hey, how would you like to show up to a children’s party in a Batman outfit this Saturday?”
As Saturday neared, she got more desperate. I think she was hoping the UPS guy would deliver something so she could sound him out about whether he liked playing make-believe. But since we didn’t have any mail order scotch in transit, the UPS guy didn’t show. I convinced her I should be Batman. Yes, I’d be recognized, but the boys would always remember the time Daddy played Batman for them.
I don’t know much about Batman, outside of the Adam West TV show. I can’t imagine how he changed into costume sliding down the pole to the Bat Cave because I had trouble getting into costume sitting on my bed. Batman’s outfit doubles as an evening gown, I discovered as I texted my wife to come zip me up.
The suit was designed for a pectorally endowed man. “You have concave nipples,” my wife informed me as I turned my rubber chest to her. A plump pillow fixed that.
I snuck out and rang the doorbell. My wife herded the children to the door and had Buster open it. I crossed the threshold; he hid behind his big brother. I knelt down to talk to him; he fled to the back room and closed the door.
And we were worried that I would just be Daddy in a cape.
I took some pictures with, and punches from, the other children, but Buster would not enter the same frame with me. I cut my losses and made my exit, reappearing as just Daddy.
They had cupcakes and Buster opened presents. That creepy Batman faded in memory.
After the party, I had some errands. “Okay, I’m leaving,” I announced, as a man does when he’s about to leave his wife alone with three sugar-laced children.
Buster looked up from his new toys. “Don’t go to Batman, Daddy,” he pleaded. “I don’t like it.”
Sometimes Daddy’s best as boring, safe, reliable Daddy.