I never had a sports hero growing up, and I always felt weird about that. It seemed like boys were supposed to admire athletes; some sweaty ball-handlers we wanted to be like when we grew up. I had guys I cheered for, and teams I followed. I screamed my guts out as much as anyone when John Stockton hit that shot to send the Jazz to their first ever Finals appearance. However, I never wanted to be like John or Karl. I never wanted to be like Ryne Sandberg or Randall Cunningham. I never pretended to hit the game winning shot, complete the Hail Mary, or hit the walk-off homer.
The guys I always pretended to be all came from movies and television. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Superman, Batman, James Bond: these were my heroes. I wanted to be brave in the face of danger, and fight bad guys. I wanted cool gadgets and hot girls. And, hey, being able to punch through walls and fly is pretty cool, too.
I would tie a towel around my neck, and “fly” around the living room. I loved my Underoos. I would pretend my watch could shoot lasers to cut through handcuffs. Growing up, I only had one toy gun: Han Solo’s blaster. It was awesome. It took 2 C batteries, so it had a nice heft to it, and it made the coolest sounds. I loved that toy.
These days I still find myself drawn to certain characters I find in the movies. Some because of the traits they possess. I would love to have the bravado of Tony Stark, the cool factor of Daniel Ocean, the surety of conviction and lack of hesitation of Ben Wade, and the undying friendships of the Fellowship.
I am drawn to other characters because I see reflections of myself in them. Another reason I like Tony Stark is because I see myself in his humor and wit. I love Ralph from Wreck-It Ralph because I often feel misunderstood, and I sometimes feel like I come off as the bad guy when I’m not. At least, I don’t think so.
But the one character that has spoken the most to me over the past few years is Captain Tightpants himself, Malcolm Reynolds.
Like Mal, I don’t show my love for others well. It’s there, and it is just as strong as his is for his crew. Like him, however, I am not great at expressing it sometimes. And, like Mal, I can be dour and my sense of humor can sometimes be on the harsh side.
What I like about Mal, and what I wish was more a part of my nature is Mal never hesitates to do what he considers to be just, and fair. He will fight for those things regardless of the consequences. Sure, he is always looking out for himself and his crew, but he will always do what he considers right, even if it means putting that crew in danger. He rescues and protects River when logic (and Jayne) says he shouldn’t. He fights to reveal the truth about the Reavers when he could easily let it go and save his own skin.
While I have certain things I feel strongly about, and things I really want to fight for, I often lack the courage to speak out. I have too much fear of what people will think. This bugs the crap out of me. I wish I could simply have the courage of Captain Malcolm Reynolds. I wish I could jump into the fray without worrying about the consequences.
Maybe I will get there one day. For now, I will just have to watch Captain Tightpants, and hope that one day I will live up to that example.