Holding Out for a Heroine (from The Batmom January 2012)

(I am slowly moving a few select posts from TheBatmom.com over here for safekeeping. This post ran in December, 2011.)

My daughter needs a superhero. An ass-kicker in primary colors. A bold fighter with a simple insignia and a compass set for good-vs-evil adventure.

She’s gotta be strong and she’s gotta be fast and she’s gotta be fresh from the fight.

I don’t know where to start so I’ll start with a ramble. 

I bought my first comic book at The Friendly Store.

Everybody called The Friendly Store Lavin’s because the Lavins owned it. The Only Restaurant In Town was a better name, or maybe The Place Where Catholics Get Fish and Chips on Fridays. 

Everything felt sticky – the vinyl benches, the BLTs, and the dusty tops of the canned goods sold in the space between the coolers filled with ice cream and the lunch counter filled with guys. 

I loved Lavin’s.

I loved that my grandmother warranted a boothside visit from whichever Lavin was staffing the restaurant. 

I loved walking in by my small self, sent by my aunt working next door to get lunch and sweet tea, which is totally something I must be making up because we’re talking 1975 New England and who the hell ever heard of sweet tea?

I loved when the Lavin behind the counter was nice to me. It must have been the she-Lavin and maybe she called me honey.

I loved it and hated it when the lunch-breaking guys noticed me and would maybe say “oh, she’s Mary’s girl.” Or Peggy’s niece. Or Mrs. Herman’s granddaughter. 

I loved sliding into a booth half-frozen from sledding and ordering a hot chocolate which came from a paper envelope just like the cocoa at home but which still tasted better; and I loved the tiny slivers of ice in the water I asked for and got, even though old man Lavin laughed when I asked and told me to go outside and get myself some snow but be sure not the yellow kind guffaws up and down the counter.

And I loved the comics. 

I’ve consumed verbiage by the sheaf since I was 3. If I’m at a table just me and my bowl and my cereal box, I will read the cereal box 45 times rather than sit there with my loud, pin-balling thoughts. 

So after scarfing down my grilled cheese and chocolate milk and perusing the dusty canned goods, I’d turn to the words, which at Lavin’s meant the newspapers and the comics.

Sometimes I bought myself a Betty & Veronica.

I don’t remember if Lavin’s meager stock included superheroes. If it did, I wouldn’t have been interested. They weren’t on my radar. 

In retrospect, Archie’s girls were petty and dull, especially when compared to my other literary girls. Anne Shirley gumptioned her way into crusty Marilla’s heart. Laura Ingalls wagon-trained her plucky little ass all the way to Kansas. Betty and Veronica squabbled over Archie, whom I liked because he bore a vague resemblance to Richie Cunningham. 

But I read them. For a few years in elementary school, I liked comic books. And then I didn’t buy myself another comic book until I was 40.