Yesterday, a nice gentleman emailed the company offices and ordered a meteorite. He explained it was a gift for his grandson. He had shown the grandson our Meteorite Men pilot, and said that “all he can talk about is growing up to be a meteorite hunter.” The gentleman went on to say:
“PS: Please tell Mr. Notkin that he has replaced Dennis Anderson, driver of the world-famous monster truck Grave Digger, as my grandson’s favorite superhero.”
Well, I thought this comment rather exciting, especially since I used to work in the comic book industry and have always been quite the superhero fan. Especially X-Men, Iron Man and Fantastic Four. Being a bit of a tinkerer, it’s the gadgets and gizmos they use that really move me, and I always particularly liked the way Tony Stark initially devised the Iron Man chest plate to keep his heart going. In the original comic book, it was a piece of Vietcong shrapnel lodged in his chest that threatened his life; in Jon Favreau’s brilliant and apocalyptic film version (that even beats out even the second X-Men film as my favorite superhero movie) the V.C. were replaced by generic Middle East terrorist villains.
Last night, I wrote back to the grandfather, told him his email had made my day, and that we’d be sending along a signed Meteorite Men photo for his grandson, in addition to the order. We always like to send a little gift for kids who enjoyed the show. I then posted an excerpt from his email on my Facebook page (names and personal details removed, of course). Well, this immediately became the most popular status update on my page for some long time. A few friends made comments about action figures in my future (I wish!) but the most unexpected post was:
“Dude, that is so cool! You just saved a kid from redneck future!”
This morning I received a follow-up email from the gentleman:
“About the superhero thing: I made the mistake of explaining to him that in as much as you can’t jump higher than the tallest building or stop bullets with your bare hands you couldn’t really be considered a superhero. My grandson then explained, very slowly so I wouldn’t get lost, that while some superheroes were born with powers, like Superman, most are normal humans who use technical devices to make them superheroes. He said that made you like Batman.”
I am hiring the grandson as soon as he’s old enough!
The gentleman then gave me a friendly warning: I should be careful about giving his grandson too much encouragement, because in about ten years the Meteorite Men “may have some serious competition.” I’ll welcome it, and his prediction at once reminded me of the end of my favorite classic Star Trek episode “A Piece of the Action”—that’s “the gangster one” for you non-Trek fans. In the final scene, Bones owns up that he has accidentally left his communicator on the surface of the alien planet Iotia. Spock posits that since they are a highly intelligent and imitative humanoid race, the Iotians will doubtless take the communicator apart, discover how it works, and adapt the new technology for their own purposes. Captain Kirk wraps up the episode by joking: “Well, in a few years, the Iotians may demand a piece of our action.”
I found the episode online and it was great fun to watch that scene again—for research purposes only, of course. By the way, have you noticed how these Internet TV sites are cropping up all over the place and have wasted no time in cramming commercials into their “broadcasts”? Forget I mentioned it. If you want to see “PIece of the Action,” please buy, borrow, or rent the DVD. Really, it’s too fabulous an episode to be chopped up with toothpaste ads.
So, much as I might have wished, as a child, to be an actual superhero, the most satisfying thing in real life is to inspire—by what we do—a little boy to dream big and follow his heart.
Well, I could go for the Meteorite Men action figure too, I guess.