Six Things I Learned Whilst Stuck Inside a Child’s Batman Costume [Guest Editorial]
Fabian Lapham is an Australian writer, comedian and filmmaker whose work includes numerous short films and sketches, many of which can be seen on YouTube and at B.E.C.A.W.E.D., the official website of his production company. Published last week at the T-Squat collective, Lapham’s essay about wearing a child’s Batman costume and the deeply introspective and existential consequences that followed struck as very hilarious, so we obtained permission from the writer to republish it here as a special Halloween treat for ComicsAlliance readers.
By Fabian Lapham
You know how, sometimes (like 2:30 pm last Wednesday), when you’re at Kmart, feeling a bit depressed and unemployed, and you’ll see a child’s Batman costume and think to yourself; “I’d be happier if I wore that?” So instead of buying food or paying rent, you buy a child’s Batman costume, take it home – and get trapped inside it?
Well, YOU’RE NOT ALONE. And the last time it happened to me, I learned something. In fact, I learned six things…
#1. I Should Never Have Tried To Wear A Child’s Batman Costume.It seems obvious in retrospect, but whilst standing there in that lonely, un-mopped Kmart aisle, I envisioned the costume empowering me, its cape flapping against the cold Melbourne night, its plastic abdominal muscles accentuating the part of my body where my own abdominal muscles might be if I had abdominal muscles.
Back in my bathroom, I shed my old clothes (like a nerdy snake) and prepared for my metamorphosis. I wormed my way into the Bat-torso (like a nerdy worm), my excitement quickly turning to frustration as it looked like the costume wasn’t going to fit.
I persevered. After a minute or two, I conceded that it most definitely would not fit me, that I had undoubtedly wasted my money… and that I was trapped inside of it.The Bat-torso clamped around my own like a steel-jaw; I struggled to get out, but my arms were restricted, three-quarts of them held within the plastic chest, only my hands able to breach the surface. I resembled a T-Rex- but not a cool T-Rex. A short, sad, pasty T-Rex, the kind God would look upon and say “OK, I think I’ve had enough of the dinosaurs now. Hand me that meteor.”
I briefly considered jumping universes and Hulking-out: just tearing the costume apart in one mighty burst, but I had spent my last dollar on this costume, and as such I couldn’t bring myself to do it (I was also not prepared to face the probability that I was far too weak for such feat of raw power). I picked up the phone and immediately put it down as I fathomed that I was far too humiliated to ask for anyone’s assistance. At the best of times, it takes a big man to ask someone for help; and I’m neither of those things.
It dawned on me that I was stuck like this for the rest of my life. This is how I was forced to live now, and I would just have to adapt. I waddled over to the fridge for some comfort snacks, before remembering that I had bought a child’s Batman costume instead of any food. “Oh, bother!” I grumbled, as the gravity of all my sh**ty life choices sunk in at once.
#2. Even If The Batman Costume Had Fit Me, It Still Wouldn’t Have Won Her Back.
Hunger-pains struck. I decided to search the bathroom for any food that my housemate might have stashed in there (my housemate is paranoid of bears.) The noise of my stomach eating itself was enough to take my mind off my depression – until I found an old hairbrush. Her old hairbrush.
When I had stood in that sad, sticky K-Mart aisle, dreaming of a Batman costume that fit me, I also dreamt how it would help me sweep a certain ex-girlfriend off Her feet – perhaps literally! Dressing as Batman might have given me the confidence to go to Her work, crouch down, and kick Her legs out from under Her. I would then, of course, catch her before she hit the ground, and then say something clever like, “Why do we fall?”, or “Haha! Careful, Babe!” Then we would simply lay in each other’s arms, staring into each other’s eyes (after falling from a penthouse building and onto a car.)
But as I stewed inside my polyester prison, I realized that She, like so many of her feminine ilk, expected – and deserved – maturity from a lover. The signs were there from the outset (I do now recall how upset she got at me at her sister’s wedding, after I got stuck inside a child’s Wolverine costume.) So maybe today would be a turning point. Maybe getting stuck inside a child’s Batman costume is what it would take to make me grow up. Or maybe not, as…
#3. Nothing We Do Matters, Life Is Meaningless, and Our Actions Are Inconsequential To The Rest Of The Universe.
Quick, off the top of your head, what does the Great Pyramid of Giza have in common with the frozen hotdog I had for breakfast? If you answered “both will inevitably be forgotten in the sands of time,” then my digestive system disagrees with you – but I, my grim albeit florid friend, do not. Not anymore. Being stuck inside a Batman costume for two hours gives one time to reflect upon oneself. Being stuck inside a Batman costume for two hours and five minutes gives one time to think about the universe and everything in it. It dawned on me that none of it matters.
Our lives may matter now, but in several millennia to come, when humans have long died out and the sun is slow-roasting the Earth in preparation of devouring it with a Cosmic Nom-Nom-Nom… they won’t. They simply won’t. The largest and smallest of our feeble humanisms are going to hold equal significance. Your opinions on gay marriage will be no more or less important than a monkey’s opinion on his elbow being itchy.
The Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice debate will be as relevant as the Twilight versus Literature debate. Man’s first space-walk will be remembered with the same reverence as a baby’s first poo. The ants will look back and laugh mockingly at the time humans failed to colonize another planet because we were distracted with war; with comparable flippancy, ants might then jeer about the time I failed to get out of a Batman costume at the age of twenty-eight.
Futility is omnipresent. Chaos is order. “The world is cruel” I surmised to myself “and the only morality in a cruel world is chance”… wait a minute – chance. Chance starts with a “C”. Sea. Sperm whales swim in the sea and are killed for their blubber. Blubber. London chemist Robert Chesebrough began his career as a chemist distilling kerosene from the sperm whale blubber. Chesebrough. Chesebrough was also the inventor of petroleum jelly, which he trade-named as Vaseline…
Vaseline! Of course! I was – at that very moment – eating some Vaseline, when it hit me…
#4. Vaseline Is More Than An Inexpensive Foodstuff- It Can Also Be Used As a Lubricant.
Rubbing myself from head to toe in the poor-man’s-jam, I was able to slide out of my self-devised nerd-trap, only tearing the costume ever so slightly – and at last, I was free! I celebrated by wearing some pants. I opened the door to imbibe my freedom. Freedom, and a dwindling sun; if I ran, I could make it back to Kmart before closing time, get a refund, and put this ordeal behind me. Sure, I could have done that the next morning, but by God, did I need the closure as soon as I could get it.
#5. Kmart Will Not Refund A Child’s Batman Costume That Is Slightly Torn and Smeared With Vaseline.
Ah, but Kmarts are a cowardly and superstitious lot. Perhaps a certain friend of mine would pay them a visit that very night…
#6. Kmart Will Not Be Intimidated By A Twenty-Eight Year Old Man Wearing A Child’s Batman Costume That Is Slightly Torn and Smeared With Vaseline.
Life is learning.