Someone was standing by the Giving Tree, reading the few remaining tags out loud in hopes we would have a naked tree.
“Nike zip up jacket size large, for 15 year old boy.”
Someone else came over and took it.
“Shoes, size 8, for 10 year old girl.”
I was finishing up my coffee, but I had totally planned on sauntering over and seeing what was left. Eventually. It’s from Happy Cup. Good coffee.
“Superhero toy for 8 year old boy.”
My head snapped up and my arm shot in the air and I shouted, “DIBS!” Because, of course.
I took the little paper tag with the red satin ribbon and tucked it in my wallet for safekeeping. And then I headed for the nearest toy merchandizing outlet.
Standing in front of the wall of blister packs, the part of me that has a masters’ degree in Education wondered for a moment if I shouldn’t be looking for a more educational, less violent—
I don’t know what the next part of that sentence was going to be because the part of me that is a fangirl squeed and jumped up and down and shouted, “THERE’S KILLOWOG! AND HE’S ON *SALE*!”
I started sorting through the other figures on sale, and someone had tried that old trick of putting the one they wanted a few rows down and behind some unrelated ones. So Killowog and his good friend Hal Jordan were reunited in my shopping basket, at which point I decided to be an equal opportunity shopper and search through the Marvel figures.
An Ultimate Iron Man went in the basket to hang with Hal and Killowog, because Tony Stark is a flawed, marvelous genius and the armor was pretty cool. And then, there in the back, I saw Falcon.
Falcon. Preacher’s kid, orphan, former mob runner, is a superhero by night and a social worker by day in Harlem, where he grew up. My second favorite Avenger ever, after She-Hulk*.
I put him in my basket and went to look for a bag, giddy with delight. These weren’t just little plastic action figures. These were people I *know*. Yeah, sure, if you don’t believe in alternate realities and the Heinlein Solipsism Theory of the Multiverse, you’ll call them ‘fictional characters’. That still does not take away from the fact that, like Buddy the Elf, I wanted to jump up and down in the aisle of the store, point to these action figures and shout, “I KNOW HIM!”
I spent a lot of time looking for a bag to shove the toys in and toss some tissue on top, which is my standard ‘Look, I put effort in!’ wrapping procedure. Then I remembered, this is an eight year old. The best thing about being eight years old on gift giving holidays is ripping the hell out of the wrapping paper to see what’s inside. So I bought some paper, and some bows, and some tape, and thought about how awesome this was. A kid was going to open presents on Christmas, and they were going to be characters I care about.
I hope that this kid will learn to love these characters as much as I do, and for as long as I have. I hope they go on adventures together and do battle and save the universe and each other in ways only a child can invent.
And if not, well, I hope he likes ripping the paper off all these packages.
*Because, COME ON! She-Hulk is a big, green, supermodel turned lawyer who uses comic books as case law. If you don’t think that’s awesome, please familiarize yourself with the left hand evacuation procedures.