By Dennis Minich
If I am looking for a bright side of the whole COVID and quarantine stuff, it is that I had time to get to know my fiancé, Leslie, well before exposing her to my family. As much as I love her and love my family, it was a danger in letting those two worlds collide too soon, much like George Constanza wanting to keep his “engaged” life separate from his “friends” life. I had much the same issue.
I started dating Leslie a few months before the whole COVID thing. While she met some of my family at various times, she was never exposed to the larger collective at one time. The problem is when a lot of the gang get together, they start telling stories, the kind of stories which may not place one in a perfect light. To understand, when Leslie and I met, I was able to come across as a charming, witty, debonair guy. Sure, I have some flaws, like I don’t like making my bed and I can’t understand why she needs 92 pairs of shoes, but other than that she thinks I am pretty swell.
Then my family has entirely different memories, ones they love to tell at my expense. Unfortunately, those two worlds finally collided on Easter. What started out as a wonderful family get together with good food and fun conversation quickly turned into Dennis’ personal hell as Leslie was regaled with stories from my younger days.
For example, my brother was full of fond memories of me playing baseball. Unlike most other people’s great sports memories, mine consist of playing baseball in the front yard by myself. They claim having a vivid imagination is a good thing, but when your secret fantasy of playing major league ball in front of 500,000 fans and having a perfect lifetime batting average gets explained 55 years after the fact, it can make one uncomfortable.
However, my brother did not stop with the tale of my exploits on the ballfield. He further explained how I also donned various capes and protected the populace of Kansas City as both Superman and Batman. Now that my secret identities are revealed, I can confess it was easier to be Batman because it’s not as painful dreaming of your bicycle being the Batmobile as it is to believe the .87 seconds it takes to fall from the roof to the ground actually constitutes flying. The advantage of Superman was no pesky mask was required, simply a kitchen towel pinned around the neck can transform a fat kid into the “man of steel.”
I had hoped my brother wouldn’t go there, but he did, noting there were times Batman or Superman actually pitched during a big game on the imaginary baseball field in front of 500,000 paying fans. These are not actually the kind of stories that make one’s significant other ooh and ahh with romance in their eyes.
Of course, other highlights from my childhood were discussed such as the time we went to the lake and I went swimming wearing a life jacket and sitting in an inner tube. The only flaw was I never got the water. I sat on the beach with my life-saving devices. One can never be too careful. It was also shared that for more than a year, I almost daily wore double-breasted shirts to be cool like the Monkees.
In defense of myself, I finally chipped in that there were times I wasn’t adorned with a cape. There were times when I wore a trench coat and saved lives as the Green Hornet and others when I wore my Sunday best suit as I served as an agent of U.N.C.L.E. And just to be clear, baseball season wasn’t year around, I was also a stud in football, basketball and hockey. I don’t know how they stuffed 500,000 on our front porch to sing my praises as I rattled the basketball rims, but it did happen.
What is really not fair was it was never noted I grew out of most of this stuff by the time I was 16 or 17.
So, now the cat is out of the bag and my dark and mysterious past has been revealed, I am retired from being the greatest athlete the world has ever known, of being the secret identity of not one, but multiple superheroes and making music with some of the greatest musicians the world has ever known.
Even with Leslie’s sense of humor and unadulterated passion for me, she has questioned some of my early-life endeavors. You know you are not going to like the question when it starts with “Did you really…?” Especially when the answer is “yes, I did.”
Fortunately, COVID delayed the inevitable collision of my worlds until my relationship was strong enough that Leslie could cope with the details of the building process that it took to make me who I am. I just hope she never learns of my work as a space explorer in the “Star Trek” universe.