A friend passed away last night. His passing was sudden and shocking. Today I’ve been thinking about him and our friendship.
In truth, I did not know Roger that long. We had many mutual friends and I had seen him at community theater events over the last few years. We became formal friends about a year and a half ago. The catalyst for our friendship was a mutual admiration of Marvel Comics’ greatest superhero- Captain America. Admittedly, Cap is not Marvel’s biggest selling or most popular hero. Spider-Man, Hulk, Wolverine- these are Marvel’s most recognizable heroes. Comic book fans that have Cap as their #1 are somewhat scarce- so it made perfect sense that Roger and I would have a lot in common.
Now- let me give Roger his due. He had serious geek cred. We were both at the Cap midnight movie premier in July 2012 and Roger beat me in a Cap-trivia question. His prize- a bagged and boarded copy of the Captain America movie comic. Roger also displayed his heroic character that night as right before the movie started he leaned over and gave the comic to my then-12-year-old son- who Roger had never met before. It made sense that Captain America was Roger’s favorite.
But what is it that attracts a grown man to superheroes?
There are a number of activities that we begin as children and continue through adulthood. For guys, sports is a ready example. Whether an athlete as a youth or watching others as an adult, sports and the American male figure are common partners. A fanaticism for sports is readily accepted in society. You’ve got to really go pretty deep into that subculture- way beyond fantasy football or team paraphernalia to get looked at as strange by society. For those lucky enough to have some talent for music, a lifelong engagement with their craft is expected and acceptable.
But SUPERHEROES? C’mon- grow up, kid!
I am saddened that I did not have enough conversations with Roger to be able to say definitively why superheroes still clicked with a man approaching his 50’s. We’d had plenty of full-on geek discussions but never got to that primal core of being that defines us. At least, not explicitly stated. I think I’ve got a clue as to why superheroes still resonated with Roger. It’s the same reason why they resonate with me. It’s the reason why our friendship was very easy.
Superheroes have the common language of that which calls us to greatness. They play on that part of our psyche that sees what we could be, not what we are. Superheroes are for all of the people that dream of being greater than they are. Superheroes are for the optimists.
If you believe, like I do, that the most majestic part of our imperfect humanity lies in our finest moments, not our most coarse, then superheroes might make sense to you as well. If the idea of nobility- not as a question of ancestry, but as a defining piece of character- makes sense to you, you might be a superhero fan. The people that believe in right and wrong- and doing right, because that is how you stamp out the wrong- those might be superhero people.
I wish I’d known Roger longer. I wish that I’d made more opportunities to hang out with him. We had some great times- like watching 12 hours of superhero movies to set just the right tone for a midnight premier of The Avengers. (Roger was the fanboy-heckling member of our crew described towards the end of this blog.) Good memories- just not enough of them. But I knew Roger enough to see those heroic facets of character in him. For me, it makes total sense that Roger was a superhero guy.
I couldn’t picture him as anything else.
-For Roger Yager, a friend and fellow fan of all things heroic. Thanks for the memories. Excelsior!