It’s easy to see why these two were the idols of five-year-olds everywhere.
Death, divorce, creditors, court struggles, alcohol, what-have-you; these things happen to almost all of us. But we don’t all have a Shazam doll stolen right out from under our noses. Those truly bad things stack up no doubt, but there’s always that first bad thing that teaches us to be on the lookout for the next bad thing. For me it had to do with Captain Marvel. Back then, and for this story, I refer to him as Shazam.
That most incredible DC Comics (originally Fawcett Comics) super hero, played in the 1970s by Jackson Bostwick, filled my mentor cup in nearly every way. From his killer cape to the Winnebago Billy Batson tooled around in righting wrongs every Saturday morning on CBS, there was nothing about him I wasn’t eating like cake. I was five or six at the time. I even watched the Secrets of Isis just in case Shazam made a cameo.
And then I got him. My very own MEGO doll of Shazam! Back then there were no action figures as there are today. They were still a year or so away I think (thanks Star Wars). I ate those up too of course, G.I. Joe, He-Man, the original Star Wars trilogy, Trek, etc., but prior to that we had MEGO dolls. I had Thor, Conan, Spider-Man, Batman, Cornelius from Planet of the Apes, Captain Kirk, Kiss dolls and Chips dolls. But my first love, my greatest accomplishment, was Shazam!
All is right with the world – so says my new Shazam doll.
So much so that I brought him to show and tell at Juan Cabrillo School in Seaside. And I showed him off alright, probably too much. Some other kid obviously felt he needed him more than I. Perhaps he thought I came from a family with more money than his family, where I could simply jaunt out and find a replacement. In either event, I returned from playing in the school yard during the lunch break to find him gone. As I did the whole day, I looked in my desk for a quick reassuring peek of my favorite “toyfriend” only to find him missing. I made a fuss to say the least. I was inconsolable. They had to call my mom. I remember feeling as if the world were crushing around my ears. I wanted to find whoever stole him and pound their little five-year-old face into jelly.
I never saw my Shazam doll again.
Take that, thief!
Whether or not my mom tried to find me a replacement I’m not sure. We drove around in a beat up Volkswagen bug with a wooden back bumper and ate TV dinners most nights. I never felt the need to steal at that point in my life, not that I didn’t dabble in it (all young children do), despite living in a neighborhood with a hooker on the corner, but we were not in the haves category either.
This is why, almost forty years later, I get all giddy and childlike at the thought of a new Shazam! Not a new TV show or movie, although I hear that’s in the works, but because those old MEGO dolls are back on the market – aimed smack dab at aging nerds like me with their own mess of issues, children they want to share a second childhood with, and a general distrust for society.
But we all hit that age where we step back and rethink our own negative outlook, where we seek to rebuild from the bottom up, and find what makes us happy in life before it’s too late.
Is that what I’m doing with my brand-spanking new Shazam doll? Beats the hell out of me. Do I feel like I can finally tell that thieving five-year-old bastard to suck it, that I have a newer, better one now?
NOTE: I am redefining the definition of toyfriend from that found in the Urban Dictionary because it’s within our power, all of us, to do just that.