I’m taking a quick break from the beginning of the saga to move us into real time. Last night I babysat my sister Robin’s 4 year old son. She and her husband have raised the their son according to the gospel of The Big Lebowski, their son is therefore named The Dude. In fact, if you ask him what the Dude does, he will tell you in all sincerity that the Dude abides.
So yesterday I’m babysitting the Dude for a night. We start off with watching some TV. It turns out there are an ENORMOUS number of superhero cartoons now, stemming from about 33 different franchises. You have Marvel, DC, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Ninja Robots, Ninja Lego Robots, an animal one where everyone looks like they were ripped off from Big Hero 6, and one especially dedicated to the Incredible Hulk and his agents of SMASH. Then all of these have spinoffs, crossovers, special episodes, recurring characters that ghost into similar shows within a franchise, and the partridge in the pear tree. The pear tree transforms into a flying dragon Lego and the partridge is the anime spirit of a long-dead warrior who is at war with Loki. Or some fucking thing.
After all of this we went outside for his favorite activity. His favorite activity is Outside Superhero Water War. I squeezed myself into Robin’s workout gear (she is Mila Kunis, I’m Christina Hendricks) and the Dude went commando because the one pair of swim trunks I could find were so big on him the only thing keeping them up was his junk. That’s too much hanging, yes really, on one four year old’s junk. So I chase after him with the spray Coppertone, him yelling “I don’t WAAAANT it!” and me screaming “I’m not going to have my sister asked how you got burned testicles, Dude!” Then we filled up full-sized water balloons and threw them at the fence until the Spiderman declared war on us.
The way it works is this: a plastic Spiderman, sitting in a chair, is attached to the sprinkler head. The water is turned on and that means the battle has started. Our main weapons are water guns. Sprinkler Spiderman, as any sprinkler supervillain would, shoots water at us. We go at him, using all sorts of positions and tactics only the Dude understands, squirting water back at him. Eventually this makes us the winners, which means we’re superheroes. We have backup weapons we use when the guns aren’t enough. I got a home base plate made out of plastic to use as a shield which was valiant of the Dude as I recently had abdominal surgery. He even showed me how to hold it for maximum protection (the key is to keep the point that would face the pitcher down. Or up. Just not side to side. What is this, your first day, Sarah?) He used a sword. I didn’t mention to the Dude we could permanently vanquish Spiderman by cutting the sprinkler feed because, dammit, I do have a heart. No reason to kill this kid’s superhero fantasy.
I don’t want to brag, but at 39 I can still bring the kickass against an evil foe like Spiderman.
That’s a lie. I was too wussy to get my leather sandals wet so I was barefoot and squeezing out of my sister’s clothing like slightly congealed toothpaste. My wrists hurt from shooting the tiny waterguns, my cellulite screams when it sees the sun and I have big oozing thing coming out of my navel that the surgeon assures me will be just as nice as the other 13 scars I have down there once something called a “hyper-inflammatory stress response” goes away. Auditioning for the Marvel franchise is right out, would be the point here.
But this isn’t about that. I’m with a naked four year old who absolutely believes that when I shout COVER ME COVER ME COVER ME he is doing something of vital importance while I refill my water gun and maybe have a sip of this wine my sister got me that’s bright pink and tastes like melted Jolly Ranchers. The Dude lives in the land with the anime dragon things, and the Transformer robot-killer car things, and he is fighting the good fight. I’d be a crappy aunt if I didn’t at least try.
Wine down. Refill pistols. Return to the scene of the battle. Locked and loaded, I put one gun straight out, bend the other over my head and shoot like my life hangs in the balance.
The Dude turns to me, and with a reverence I have never heard before, says “nice move, Sarah.”
Watch your ass, Ninja Lego Hulk Dragons. I’m coming for you next.