When I was 12 and scrawny, ball cards and comic books where my life. I knew every stat of every great player. As far as comic books went, I knew everything about every Marvel Comic character. (DC comics were still suffering in sales as is it was right before the Dark Batman comics where issued and revived them.)
I lived in those Marvel worlds. Dreamed in those worlds and thought everyone else should dream in those worlds as well. I tried to get my sisters and parents interested, and though they liked the characters and enjoyed a good Superman movie, they just didn't "get it" as I "got it." I saw the world through my comic book lens. My friends and myself would talk about new issues and reenact fight scenes in the nearby woods.
It was bliss.
A year or two later, I moved on from the comic book scene and so did all of my friends accept for Paul. Paul was a little older than all of us and wasn't liked much at his school. But back in the day, he had the coolest and oldest comics on the block. He knew things that no one else knew about Comic Book characters, so all us younger kids gave him a warm welcome into the fantasy wars.
I remember one time when we were all hiding in separate trees in Paul's big back yard, waiting for the Green Goblin (my best buddy Brad) to find and fire on us with his little gun that shot those little plastic discs (now outlawed for safety reasons.)
All of the sudden, as we were still perched in our tree domains waiting to strike, Paul blew our cover and started to whelp. The sound of him whelping and thundering down the tree was astounding. He wasn't climbing down the branches; he was desperately and intentionally falling and flailing through them. He hit the ground with a thud and started hauling butt home howling and swatting at what seemed to be a bunch of bees in angry pursuit.
I laughed 3 days straight over that instance.
School started and another year or two passed and I didn't see much of Paul and I became more interested in drawing characters myself and creating new worlds and realities rather than just reading them. Reading comic books where replaced by reading novels and listening to Hendrix, but where still cherished as a part of my happy past. Girls and Church fun became a great source of interest as well. My imagination had matured and my social skills, though still naturally awkward, were growing as well.
One day a few summers later, for some reason, we all turned up back in Paul’s front yard...