Well it WAS inevitable.
Or maybe I should say pre-destined?
We all knew I was eventually going to have to write about comic books – That treasure trove of fantastic images and storytelling, a figurative well that I will always come back to, no matter how far away the journey of life takes me through the sands of time. And I think I just remembered my Uncle Ben.
Guys and gals, I am not sure that you realize how much I love comic books, but after this post is all said and done, I think you will have a much stronger idea of what I am talking about. But because this is timotheories and not some two-bit nexopia account from the early 2000s (playful teasing really, as I lived that life myself for a while), plus the fact that I cannot ever seem to write or talk about one subject without jumping into something else, we are going to use the medium of advanced puppet armour, or “the mascot” if you prefer, to dive into some interesting ideas and see what we can find.
First, let us have a history lesson. Did you know the etymology of the mascot is pretty broad? And reaches back almost 150 years? Yeah that’s the truth. Real talk even.
The word “mascot” was first popularized in an operetta called La Mascotte, which was, obviously, translated into English as The Mascot. Even more interesting is the notion that the word was meant to be used for a person, animal or object that is a symbolic figure for an organization, in particular, one that would bring good fortune. Pretty cool right? Previously though “mascot” was slang for the word “witch” and potentially also “spell.” We’ll come back to this seemingly minor anecdote further down the line dear readers, I promise.
Now that I’ve told you about the origin of mascots, and fortunately for us, origin stories are not an uncommon theme in a superhero story, I’m going to share with you some of my own experience with mascots. Specifically in thinking of their potential and then taking up the mantle on my own terms.
Once upon a time…
I had never wanted to be anyone other than myself, to be perfectly honest. I DID want to be a more interesting version of me and way more accessible to my peers though. High school was a pretty shitty time for me. But let’s be brutally honest, like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter honest. I was singing that same tune that’s being covered so poorly a thousand times before, and I thought I was special. I thought I was Johnny Cash doing his rendition of Hurt by NIN and that it meant something. I thought I was pretty enough and funny enough and smart enough and that I just needed something life-altering to immortalize my unique image.
So not only was I going through puberty, realizing I was incredibly introverted, but my hormones had made me certifiably insane.
And yeah, it was just another dance at a high school full of intoxicated teenagers who were happy to get high on low grade marijuana and Bacardi breezers they had snaked from their “mature” older siblings. Nothing out of the ordinary there. In my mind though, I was finally starting to live life. I had made it through grade 10 and 11, and was a big man on campus.
Less than two months into senior year and I was one of two publicity chairmen on the student’s union. I wasn’t given the title of grand wizard, which actually happened to someone, but I was happy to be part of something larger than myself.
So when two of my new friends suggested that we head into the Student’s Union room to find something to bring out for the party, I was on board. We got into the locked room with our fancy SU keys and my pals immediately uncovered some awesome party beads. They had also brought lays for themselves and immediately put them on of course. Then Jill and Dustin, whose names have been altered because I didn’t ask their permission, had a brilliant idea.
Keep in mind I was 17, an introvert, who wanted to be cooler. Basically every 17 year old you’ve ever met.
The idea was that one of us should dress up as the high school mascot because it would build up school spirit, and given that I was the least vocal of the three amigos, it made sense for me to do it. That and the dinks wouldn’t let me wear their Hawaiian lays unless I did it. Apparently peer pressure worked that time. Also, as I’ve learned over the years, I get adrenaline rushes from the weirdest things. So I suited up.
The fan in the head barely worked, so I was immediately pretty damn hot. Also I was very sure no one had cleaned it out in at least a year or 2, despite the well worded lies of the teacher advisor who was voluntold to keep us in line. I mention this bouquet of smells because I think both heat stroke and nausea factored into my next few decisions.
We were heading into the dance.
While I was walking down the hall with my entourage it started to make sense why vigilantes in my favourite stories wore costumes. Whether they were good or bad, they had a special kind of power. The seemingly absolute freedom to act in ways I normally could not; it overwhelmed me at first. I WAS Rambo the mascot.
That walk awakened something in me. I was a superstar, more beautiful and graceful than any model living or dead. I was being cheered on by teachers and students alike as I did my exaggerated walk. There were so many high fives and hugs. And for a 17 year old boy with almost no social ability with the opposite sex, those hugs from girls felt amazing.
I began to dance gloriously to the music, and it felt right. I wish I could remember more of the sights and sounds inside the gymnasium, but I was pretty much blind in there. And the low hum of the fan combined with the heavy bass was not doing me any favours.
But then something happened. My conscience knew immediately what that arm on my shoulder meant. I was being herded out of the gym by two guys who I thought, in my moment of hyper paranoia, were going to throw me outside and beat me up…
Dear readers, I need to take a break right here.
It’s just occurred to me that we can’t have a healthy discussion about superheroes, costumes, and origin stories without employing a very powerful model of the medium.
So I am going to exercise my right as the author of this story to keep you on the edge of your computer chairs, until next time. That’s right, we’re doing a post told in two parts folks. I promise it will be worth it. We’ll all learn a valuable lesson, and in the end, life will go on as intended.
Do I have any more theories today? No, unfortunately I’ve handed them all out. But now you can clip them, post them on your fridge, and then use them the next time you are out on the town and want to save someone the trouble of spending too much time and money on small talk.