November 12, 2004
Ramblings of a Rag Doll
The powers that be at InterVarsity Press have decided that the best way to promote my book Comic Book Character is to film me in a spandex body suit. Beyond the awkward pragmatics of such a decision--try getting reimbursed for the purchase of bikini briefs, for example--there's a great deal of existential dread that accompanies you as you open your office door and confront your colleagues wearing clothing that shows off every contour of your body. To quote Bill from the film Kill Bill, "This is me at my most masochistic."
I kept a journal of the experience, posted here for your amusement.
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Today is the day. Today I put on a body suit and prance around like a sideshow freak in front of people for whom I have spent years carefully cultivating an image of cool. Today I get to be an IVP rag doll. Today I get to play the fool.
Not everyone knows what playing the fool is like. Some people only ever play it cool, which is certainly what I've striven for all these years. Nevertheless, I have long experience playing the fool. Someone has to do it, generally, and not everyone has the stomach for it. Eventually you get inoculated to the shame of it, and I'm almost there, but today is my final injection. Look out folly, here I come.
I wish I had written about Dominoes or Scrabble or some other geeky fascination that would require less public humiliation. I wish I had written a book about senators or football players or rock musicians or virtually anything but superheroes. None of them dresses funny--at least, not as a rule. I suppose you might argue that football players look a little silly out of context, but you certainly wouldn't argue that to a football player's face. They'd smash your face on the way to shoving you into a locker. Believe me, I've imagined it. It's not a pleasant experience, and you're permanently scarred thereafter, if not physically then emotionally.
I don't want to be typecast; I just want all the glory and a good lot of the money that publishing a book on a staple of pop culture could conceivably entail. I want the fame and the privilege so I can just sign off and demand the privacy that my celebrity has earned me. But no--I had to bypass Beanie Babies and stand-up comedy and instead write about superheroes, which is why today I get to dress up like a pro wrestler.
I never thought I would actually wear one of these outfits. It fits me like a glove fits a stomach. Yick. I look like a giant red tube-sock. Like Daredevil on a diet of donuts. Like I've let myself go.
Meanwhile, Tony the Super Villain gets to wear jet black and look like a ninja from outer space. Evil is definitely sexier than good. But then, I guess we all knew that, didn't we? Nothing satisfies the gluttonous, subhuman part of us like a sexy little evildoer, like a silver-tongued serpent, like a juicy, poisoned apple. We gravitate toward evil, which is why we need something beyond us to deliver us from it. Which is why we long for heroes--and why ultimately there can be only one Hero.
Which is why I wrote the book, and which is why I'm willing to endure the humiliation that attends to adult treatments of issues that are commonly considered juvenile. To quote REM: "Someone has to take the fall--why not me?"
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If you made it through this week's Strangely Dim without following one of the links I set up in a desperate attempt to divert attention from my ignonimous acting debut, congratulations. Click here to view the video. And send it to all your friends--I might as well make the most of my embarrassment.
Let me know what you think by posting a comment. If you're not on my notification list for new Strangely Dim postings but would like to be, e-mail me at email@example.com.
My book allegedly arrives at IVP next Friday, just hours after I'll have left town for a week and a half. Sigh.