I don’t know about anyone else, but I was totally obsessed with the Super Friends cartoon when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I was also bat shit crazy for the Smurfs (ahem, it was totally bogus that Smurfette was evil when she had dark hair), Alvin and the Chipmunks (yes, I had the Chipmunk Rock vinyl – whip it good!), and obviously, Scooby Doo, but Super Friends holds a special place in my heart.
Maybe it was because Wonder Woman is the first role model I can remember. She had dark hair, a magic lasso, and knee-high red boots. She was everything my childhood self aspired to be as an adult.
Maybe it was because superheroes are just plain ol’ awesome, and everybody with a sense of imagination grew up wanting to be a member of an intergalactic, super-human crime-fighting team. But most likely it was because the Super Friends were a little more sophisticated than my other cartoon tastes, and my brother would plant himself on the floor in front of the TV and watch with me.
My brother hung out with me a lot, considering he was a full seven years older than me. He never treated me like a little kid – I was just part of his scene. On snowy winter days when we were blessed with an unexpected day off from school, Mike and I would pull every cushion from our couches. We’d grab this weird, random Strawberry Shortcake tube I used to play in (like this, but cooler, because it was STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE). We’d gather all the blankets and pillows and sheets we could find and build forts that spanned multiple rooms in the lower half of our split-level house.
We built our forts with a passion, and a mission. We wanted them to look like this:
(Side note: NBC’s Community gang really knows how to build a fort!)
We forted it up until we could fort no more. Eventually, Mike and I grew tired of hiding underneath sagging sheets, in a dark cave of a fort, which in turn was built in a dark cave of a room. And after being cooped up in the house all day, the mood inevitably started to turn.
We griped at one another. He teased, I sulked. There was only one thing to do: throw down and play a game of superheroes.
We stomped like Godzilla all over our precious fort, taking all the pillows and cushions and lining the entire floor with them. We each picked just one superpower that we could use without limit during what can only be described as an all-out wrestling match.
My brother took pity on me because I was younger and smaller. He would be “Spit-Man” or “Fart-Man” (before Howard Stern made that a thing) or something, so that he could spit on me or fart whenever he wanted. Averse to others’ bodily fluids and disgusting odors, those were actually fairly decent powers for him to select. I almost always chose to take on the persona of either “The Grabber” or “Pinch-Girl.” I could rip my brother’s hair from the roots or pinch him at any point during our battle. If I had chosen “Pinch Girl” I’d cheat, using my nails to scratch him when I pinched. It’s not easy to fight fair when you’re up against a seven-year age difference. Beyond our defined super powers, we just shoved each other around on the cushions, trying to hurt each other just enough to get our snowed-in aggression out, but not enough to warrant tears, which would lead to an angry parent. And nobody wanted an angry parent to soil the beauty of a snow day.
I don’t remember anyone ever winning our games of Superhero. I remember Mike’s scratched up arms peeking out from his Gap sweaters for a week or so. I think he probably blamed those on our family cat, Sox. (Sorry, Sox!) I remember that he never really spit on me, he just used the threat of spit to get away from me when I was pinching and clawing at him like a lunatic 7-year-old lobster.
Even though I’m an adult now, I still wish for forts and games of Superhero. I would pick a fun super power and be the “Shocktress,” where I’d shuffle around in my socks on the carpet until I had enough static electricity to give my brother a good zap. These days, I think Mike would choose to be “Mr. Sharp” or something and he’d draw on my face with Sharpie marker so that I’d be humiliated in the office the next day. We’re older now, and clearly more sophisticated.