by | Jun 10, 1990 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

I grab the box of Bat shirts and the carton of Bat hats and crawl into the upstairs attic. It is time to put away old things. It is time to–

“Tracy!” comes a familiar voice.

“Tracy?” I ask.

I have heard this voice before. I hear it every summer. I do not know where it comes from. I only know that it starts in May and won’t stop until September, when the kids are back in school and I am broke.

“Tracy!” it says. “Get Dick Tracy! What are you doing with those stupid Bat masks?”

“You told me to buy these stupid Bat masks,” I say. “Last summer? Don’t you remember? You said I had to have the Bat masks and the Joker makeup and the Bruce Wayne pocket watch and the miniature Batmobile with battery pack, or else my children would lock themselves in the bathroom for 72 nights in a row. Believe me, I’ll be delighted to get rid of this stuff and get —

“Yellow! Get yellow!”


So now it is yellow. Dick Tracy. Yellow. Suddenly, my eight-year-old, Luke, wants a yellow raincoat and my six-year- old, Obi-Wan, wants a yellow umbrella, and the cat, Wookie, wants a yellow litter box. Yellow. I will go bust with yellow. I can see it coming.

“Tracy,” coos the voice. “Yellow.”

“Yellow,” I say. Who has time to see the movie?

I lock up the Bat trunk and file away the Bat key. I push the miniature Bat cave into the corner, next to the miniature Temple of Doom and the miniature DeLorean from “Back To The Future Part I,” or maybe Part II. I forget. I did not see the movie.

I never see the movie. Who has time to see the movie? I am not sure we are supposed to see the movie. Besides, after the lunch box and the T-shirt and the 32-ounce mug with official insignia, I have no money left for the movie. The movie would leave me–

“Breathless!” says the voice.

“Breathless?’ I say.

I know about Breathless. She is the love interest in “Dick Tracy” played by Madonna, just like the love interest in Batman played by Kim Basinger and the love interest in Star Wars played by Carrie Fisher. Do not ask me how I know Breathless. The name has seeped into my life the way names such as Quayle and Arsenio and Jordan seep into my life. There is a leak somewhere, and these names get in.

And now my five-year-old, Indiana, and my three-year-old, E.T., are yelling “Breathless!” and demanding that we go to the store, right now, and buy all her outfits as well as the bubble gum cards, before they sell out.

“Don’t forget the watches!” says the voice. “Walkie Talkie Watches. You must have them! Can’t you hear the children?”

I can hear the children. I hear them yell for watches. I hear them say they need watches to go with the detective hats and the long raincoats so they can say things into their wrists like “I’m on my way.”

I will tell them, “Look, what about all these nice Ghostbuster watches? Or these great Roger Rabbit watches, with the hands shaped like paws?”

“Yuck,” they will say.

“Willow watches!” I will counter. “How about these great Willow watches? We’ve got a ton of those. Or these ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids’ watches? They’re nice and small.”

“Double yuck,” they will say.

You see the problem. Feeling blue over yellow

I put the Bat boots next to the Bat belts. I sigh. It seems to me there was once a time when movies were something you watched. You didn’t need to dress like the hero or drive the hero’s car or own his laser sword. The studios made money by how many people went to see the film, not by how many bought the nylon windbreaker, only $8.95, with purchase of a large fries at McDonald’s. Of course, this was a long time ago.

“So it’s Dick Tracy, and Breathless, and yellow,” I say to the voice, as I stuff the last Bat cape in with the Princess Leah tiara, and the Mumford Phys-Ed T-shirts from “Beverly Hills Cop.” “Raincoats and hats and watches this summer. Do I have it right?”

“Don’t forget the machine guns.”

“Machine guns,” I say.

I yank the door shut and climb down the ladder. I am greeted by my dog, RoboCop, and my other dog, Die Hard. I must remember to feed the goldfish, Eddie and Nick, and check on Mel, the gerbil.

I head downstairs. I can hear the kids screaming. It is going to be a long summer, just like last year. The movie has not even opened and already every major newspaper and TV network has announced how big it will be. I know what this means. It means I will need a new attic.

“Tracy,” coos the voice. “Get Tracy.”

“May the force be with you,” I say.

“Huh?” it says.


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