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I’m a grown man. I have produced children of my own. I love my wife. I’m a good husband and father. I have a satisfying, full-time job. Overall, I’d say I’m successful, content, and proud.

I’m also sad and confused.

Am I grieving for the loss of adventure? Mourning my loss of youth?

I’m in bed, restless, overcompensating for my lack of concentration. My eyes are closed as I seek out a single, clear thought.

The image and concept is of me, as a boy of twelve, riding my bicycle in circles on the street. Curb to curb. No car interruption. Quiet summer day in the neighborhood where I grew up.

My female friend follows me with her eyes and head, around and around. I speak rapidly about my desire to hop rooftops and fight crime. I’ll continue my karate classes and take out the big thugs and gangs who carry weapons. Guns scare me, but I’m skinny, muscular, and agile.

“I’d have to run away. Or maybe just at night. And come back.”

“So you’re saying … like Batman?”

“Yeah. I’d be Robin.”

“I thought you meant Robin Hood. Stealing from the rich for the poor. You’d be a thief in tights.”

“No, I’m not stealing. And I’m not going to wear tights. I want to be Robin, but I don’t want to confuse people, them asking why I’m a kid by myself, because … I mean, I don’t want a man around dressed up like Batman. I don’t know how I’ll do it. But Robin’s got this staff. Like a stick that comes out. For a weapon. And I’d wear an eye mask to scare and so people wouldn’t know who I was. And you can’t tell anybody if I do this.”

“You’re never going to do it. There’s no Gotham City.”

“I could go to Detroit. It’d be close to home, too. I’d ride my bike to the city, get on the roof –”

“Would you take an elevator first?”

“Maybe. I don’t know. And then change into my costume on the roof? I could do that. I’d have to sneak out at night.”

“At night? You’d have to sign in at the building if it’s after work hours. The nightguard would see you.”

“I’d sneak past him. And I wouldn’t wear bright colors like Robin, either. Sometimes, the comic books darken his red and yellow.”

“How are you going to make the costume?”

“I’ll probably just wear a hood. And I’d wear warm, skin-tight clothes so I can move fast.”

“Will you have a cape?”

“Yeah. To hide and keep me warm.”

“What about when it’s already warm out?”

“I’ll wear less layers.”

“You’ll be able to see your … will you wear a cup?”

“Yeah. Are you seeing how possible it is now?”

“You’ll die. You’ll get to one person who’s got a gun and die.”

“I’ll be hiding. And I’ll have weapons to throw from the shadows.”

“Have you ever used a grappling hook? Aren’t they super heavy?”

“I’ll pick buildings that are close. Use fire escapes. Have protective gloves.”

“Are you going to call yourself Robin?”

“I’m not sure. I guess. Because I’ll look like him. A version of him. It’ll be more confusing if I don’t call myself Robin.”

“But you have to have a Batman. Or have someone be Catwoman. I could be her.”

“No. You don’t know how to fight. You don’t read the comics.”

“So what.”

You’d be the one who’d die. And I won’t die. I’m a good fighter. I’m smarter or think in a different way compared to most kids.”

“You’re weird. Yep.”

“Haven’t you ever had a dream like that? Something you can’t do but, if you did, you’d be the first? I want to do it! I don’t want to think about it and imagine myself in the comics. I want to do it. Before I’m an adult. There aren’t any real superheroes out there. And to be a kid, not even a teenager yet, and be able to do something that means more than what some adults do? I want to do that.”

I’m crying. Awake and aware of the dream. I’m not a failure, but there’s something lost. The ability to hope? Lost? The ability to conjure up something so profound that it could materialize in my heart, out my mouth, to a friend? Lost? Isn’t that a marvel, to look back at children and their abilities? Shouldn’t I be grateful for that time of my life?

The older me – the adult, husband, father, working-man me – may be unable to imagine in such a way, but the younger, excited boy couldn’t do what I do now. The length to which my mind and heart have expanded.

I still want to be Robin.

I sleep as I remember the rest of that day.

“I don’t think you should run away.”

“I want to.”


“To help people. To get away from being a kid.”

“But you’ll still be a kid. You’re going to leave everything behind to hide in the city? I don’t think it sounds realistic.”

“I’m going to do it.”

“Okay. But why?”

“I told you.”

“You’re not going to be able to stop crime. You can’t make an arrest. Are you going to kill people?”

“Robin doesn’t kill. Like Batman. Neither of them do.”

“Are you going to knock them out? All of them? Tie everyone up? You’ll run out of rope. And where are you going to put the rope? Robin doesn’t have a backpack.”

“Maybe he should. It’s annoying me that you’re not believing me.”

“I believe that you want to be Robin. I know you really want to do it, but why leave your house? Are you wanting to get away from your parents? School?”

“Yeah. I could leave school.”

“Because I could run away with you.”

“No. I’m not saying that. Do you want to run away?”

“Sometimes. I could run away and start my life right now, as a kid, like an adult, and play house for real. I wouldn’t want a kid before I’m thirteen, but I could take care of myself. But … I also don’t want to. I love my dad. And my sister.”

“I love my mom and dad, too. I’m not running away.”

“Why don’t you wait and be Batman?”


“When you’re an adult. When you’re done with school.”

“I’m not going to college.”

“I meant high school. And be the first real Batman.”

I’m dreaming. I’m dreaming of being Batman.

I’m dreaming of the girl, my friend, wondering where she is today, remembering how she told me, that next year, how she loved me and wanted to date me and marry me. I was embarrassed and laughed at the idea. I didn’t laugh at her. I smiled really big and shrugged, I think. Because we were friends. I didn’t know what to say. I moved that same year. I didn’t know how to deal with another dream.

Dan Jones

Author Dan Jones

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