Years ago, in college, I had this boss named Jerry. He was a great guy; he was the kind of guy who kept a paper bag loaded with tylenol, electrolites, apple juice, and a candy bar in his desk drawer for those days you showed up to hungover to be of any use. And he never looked down on you for needing it. That kind of guy.
Jerry looked a little like Michael Keaton. He had the same cheeks, the same eyes, the same hair. I used to ask him, on a daily basis, to say "I'm Batman" but he never would.
I showed up to work one day, more hungover than usual, after having just had a massive fight with my girlfriend, who worked in the same building. Jerry picked me up, metaphorically speaking, and dusted me off and got me functioning again. Then, in an effort to put a cap on things, when I said thanks he said, "It's what I do." He paused just a beat, looked directly into my eyes, said, "I'm Batman."
I damn near died laughing.
Jerry and Groove Neuter had to pick me up off the floor, literally this time, where I had collapsed, and I could see that Jerry regretted having said it. I wanted to explain that I was not laughing at him, instead it was a combination of being touched that he had said it and a release valve for pent up stress from the day before, but it was too late. I was up and at work and he was off somewhere else. I stopped asking him to say it and he never mentioned it and that was that.
I had a cold a couple of weeks ago that made me lose most of my voice. I could speak only in harsh whispers and grunts.
My wife, being kind and taking pity on my, made a nice, thick soup for dinner. After eating I said thanks and she asked if I could say "Gottsan desu," a variation on the traditional post meal "gochi so sama deshita," meaning thanks for the food.
I said it, without really thinking about and only when she collapsed with laughter did it occur to me to ask why.
"It's what sumo say!" She gasped out between laughing fits. I joined her in laughing, because, really what else could I do? And she was not being mean, or cruel; I often make jokes about myself being sumo sized and we both laugh at the idea of me in the sumo dohyo. So I laughed with her and it was a good joke.
But it reminded me of Jerry, and that I should e-mail him, see how he's doing, see if he ever looks in the mirror and thinks "I'm Batman."