Bob Eastley: The Caped Crusader

Growing up, I got to watch the late George Reeves as Superman. Faster than a speeding college student. More powerful than an ugly rumor. The dude sported knee-high boots, skin-tight jammies, middle-age pudge, and the piece de resistance, that flowing red cape. Batman had one. So did Robin and Supergirl. It was a required accessory for all your basic overachiever superhero types.

I’ve never been a superhero. No, really. I’ve never made a mid-air rescue of a distressed damsel falling from the roof of a skyscraper or deflected a meteor hurtling catastrophically toward Earth or anything quite that dramatic. It isn’t that I’m not cape-able. I just don’t own a cape.

I googled it, and “cape” has a number of definitions. It can be a short, sleeveless cloak. It can also be a promontory, which is a high point of land jutting into a body of water. Hence Cod and Hatteras. Or, it can be a protuberance (I like that word) of a structure in the body. The cape buffalo has a big, nasty protuberance. His head carries two massive horns connected by a titanium bone across the forehead that could dent a bulldozer.

Getting back to the superhero variety, I really don’t grasp the need for a cape. Every time Zorro reached for his sword, he had to fumble around with two yards of black fabric. It seems like a nonfunctional wardrobe item, much like my least favorite accessory, the necktie, or its pretentious little cousin, the ascot. I suppose you could spread it out on the ground if you wanted to have a picnic, or you could wrap up your worldly belongings and hang it on a stick if you’ve decided to go hobo. You might even dry your car with it.

Beyond that, a cape is pretty useless. My grandmother used to wear one, but she called it a shawl. Anyhow, let’s suppose that you and the gang are going out to dinner, and you decide to show off your brand new outer garment at a pub in rural LeRoy. Yeah, good call. Some of the patrons there, the ones who arrived in pickup trucks (actually, that’s all of them) and are currently downing their fourth PBR, might not appreciate the merits of your new ensemble. So, you put your coat over it, and discover that it’s hanging out in the back like a loincloth.

Not good, so you tuck it in, but then you look like you’re wearing a diaper or a pair of XXXL boxers gone very, very wrong. Once again, the aforementioned pub patrons conclude that you don’t quite fit in, and they merrily mop up the floor with your snazzy new cape. Unfortunately, you’re still attached.

So, you crawl out of there and manage to get home only moderately scathed, and it’s time to hit the sack. At about three o’clock in the morning, you roll over, the cape doesn’t, and soon you’re wadded up like an oversized caterpillar in a bright red cocoon. Maybe the superhero thing isn’t for you.

I, on the other hand, feel that a brand new cape may be all I need to achieve my potential. A good friend of mine is from South Africa. Yes, this region has been mentioned in the news lately. Anyhow, he tells me that Cape Town is the place to shop. All capes, all on sale, all the time. I might buy one for each day of the week. See you when I get back.

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