As the excited children filed past our trunk with their parents, I kept a close eye out for any fellow Batmen (or whatever you’re supposed to call the plural of Batman—Batboys? Batkids? Batgirls?). As each youngster dressed like me approached our car, I would kneel down to eye level with the child, and, in my best dark, mysterious, raspy voice, say something like, “How are things back at the bat cave?” or “Have you seen the Joker? He’s on the loose, so you better be on the lookout!” Most of the kids would giggle and reply with something like, “I’m gonna find him and beat him up!” or “The bat cave is a secret!” We hosted more than 2,400 people on our campus that day, so I talked to plenty of Bat-people (nailed it!) and other superhero impersonators during the two-hour event.
About 30 minutes into the event, a young boy who was about six years old wearing a Batman costume approached our car, grasping his mother’s hand tightly. As he saw me, before I could kneel and say anything, he stopped, pointed at me, and wide-eyed and full of wonder, said to his mother, “Mom, look, it’s the REAL Batman!” Now, keep in mind, the costume my wife bought me is one of those simple one-piece flannel step-in-and-zip-up deals, with a plastic cape velcroed to the back. I had paired it with black gloves and some dark sunglasses—no mask. Clearly, I was NOT the real Batman, and I wasn’t trying to fool anyone into thinking I was. But, on a day when being a child is celebrated, this child’s imagination took over, and, for a moment, he allowed himself to imagine that he was staring at THE Batman. I dutifully fulfilled my Bat-duties and kneeled down with some candy, a smile, a comment, and I asked him if he wanted a picture. He and I struck Bat-poses, and his mom snapped a few photos. On they went to the next vehicle, and that kid’s day was made.
As I stood there thinking back on that moment, I wondered how in the world that young man could have allowed his mind to convince him that he was in the presence of the real Batman. After all, he himself was wearing a very similar costume (albeit a smaller size), and there were at least 30 other children also dressed in the same getup nearby. But, for a moment, by using his imagination, that boy experienced the elation of realizing a dream, and I got to watch it happen.