I don’t remember the first time I made the discovery. My earliest memories of him are flashes of blue on a TV screen, mixed with a red and green side kick and a theme song I couldn’t get out of my head.
But I do remember one thing clearly.
At age 4, “Matman” was all I ever wanted to be.
It came from a need to share pure joy, a goodness in my heart that wanted someone else to experience the majesty, the magnificence, the glorious breadth of possibility this incredible individual inspired.
And so I made the fateful mistake that cost my superhero his life.
My unassailable savior of society, the doyen of the dynamic duo, the do gooder who had defeated the most dazzling display of dangerous dastards known to man--the symbol of everything I believed in—was about to meet his match.
And to my great humiliation, it would be at the hands of the last person on Earth I would ever want to give the credit …
I sang her the theme song. “Matman! Matman! Matman!!!”
And the smile was not a happy smile. It wasn’t the smile I had envisioned that beamed from her soul for having made the delirious discovery of the greatest thing ever.
It was an “I’ve got you,” smile. “I’m about to rock your world,” smile. “I’m about to lay waste to your pitiful and puny existence,” smile.
She savored a last gleeful glimpse of my incipient innocence.
And then she exhaled the words …
“It’s not Matman you little brat, it’s Batman!”
The hard “B” felt like a stone--like something alien sailing through a window into my soul and shattering something inside me when I wasn’t looking. I didn’t know what it was, but my body knew it was bad. It started to try to heal right away.
“ No, it’s Matman.”
“Mom!” she yelled.
The wheels in my mind spun. My sister was eleven years older than I was and that begged a horrible possibility. Maybe she knew something I didn’t. Worse yet, she could read.
Everything moved in slow motion. I wanted to hang there, suspended in time forever, without my mom ever entering the room, because by then, I knew.
“What’s the name of Chris’s show, Mom, Matman or Batman?”
My mother put the needle to my eardrum. And pressed.
The second time I heard that hard “B”, “Batman,” I knew it wasn’t just something inside me that shattered, it was my whole world.
How could my insignificant, ignorant sister, know more about the thing I loved most in the universe than I? I had literally gotten his name wrong!
I was numb. My mind began to spiral. I could not process it. A game of ping pong between shame and clinging to what I “knew” to be true, began to play out in my mind. And shame was kicking ass.
“It’s Matman,” I said, and left the room.
And so began the metaphor that describes my relationship to Hollywood. No matter how certain I am about the invincibility of my perspective, no matter how deeply I think my vision of things is sure to get etched in stone on the proverbial sidewalk of the entertainment industry, no matter how deeply seeded my belief in myself is …
Invariably, I will suck ass.
And that is the one constant I can attribute to art. If at first I don’t succeed, I will continue to suck ass, suck ass, suck ass … until eventually … hopefully … maybe just a little … I won’t.