Everyone’s Hero (#469)

Charlie and I saw the trailer for this movie, Everyone’s Hero, back in July when we saw Monster House and the combination of baseball, boy in the Bronx in the 1930s, and the Babe’s own bat looked promising.
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Of course, the title could not but catch my eye. Who else is my hero but a certain boy named Charlie?

From the trailer, I gathered that the main characters were Dad (a janitor in Yankee Stadium) and Mom (who makes a less than delicious meatloaf), and—if I may read a bit into an animated movie, a surrogate Dad (Screwy, a talking baseball) and a surrogate Mom (Darling, Babe Ruth’s bat who also talks)—that there were trains, and that the main character, a smallish boy with a bad swing named Yankee Irving, was an underdog. In other words, the basic elements of Everyone’s Hero are familiar elements in Charlie’s world.

The movie itself was on-and-off preachy in promoting its Theme (“No matter where life takes you, always keep swinging”) as Yankee, rucksack on his back and Yankees cap on his head, braves the world beyond the Bronx to get the Babe’s stolen bat and, even more, his father’s job back (Mr. Irving is fired after it is discovered that the bat is missing). Charlie watched three trailers with great focus and a grin, only to request twice to use the bathoom during Our Feature Presentation. When back in his seat, there were many times that he was looking up at the screen with a broad grin—-a scene with trains clicking and clacketting (“strain! strain! I want ‘strain” said Charlie; alas, after a certain point, Yankee walks by the tracks)—and others when I realized I should have taken my students’ advice and taken him to see Open Season (which struck me as a clone of Over the Hedge: wild animals with a consuming desire for junk food……).

We were at the movies on a Monday afternoon because Charlie had the day off from school for Yom Kippur. Jim stayed home in the morning; Charlie slept in and then went on a yet another hilly bike ride during which he twice fell off his bike. Jim always has Charlie ride close to the sidewalk but some of the sidewalks in our neighborhood are taller than average with a bit of a ledge and Charlie’s pedals got caught and down he went (no cuts, thankfully). And while there were times when Charlie cried as he struggled (refused) to pedal up the hills, he eventually did with Jim encouraging (sometimes pushing) him. The two of them met me in the parking lot behind my old brick office building, dropped Jim off to catch a train in Journal Square, and drove off to the rest of our daily adventure, the first stop of which was Target.

Charlie slumped over the shopping cart, the hood of his sweatshirt securely over his head even though it was a warm day. We needed nothing interesting—paper products, fabric softener, velcro—Charlie made no motion to look at the Barney DVDs and CDs that used to be his “reward” for “being good” in the store. He asked for a “clear drink” (a diet Sprite) and shared it with me before we headed off to the movies and, afterwards, the grocery store. Charlie remained easy-going (though certainly pleased to choose a pack of sushi), especially as the background to all these events was me talking on my cell phone (a student had to finish an important scholarship application and I had left the office early with Charlie) and consulting a pile of papers spelling out Application Requirements, and talking to Jim about the program for the October 27th Autism and Advocacy conference.

I try not to talk too much on the phone when it is just Charlie and me, or to broadcast too much anxiety: Charlie is completely attuned to my non-verbal communication (tone of voice, body language) and our weekend had been on-and-off anxious. He sat in the backseat as I hastily made a call; he carried the heaviest bag of groceries; he smiled a good part of the way home. After a couple of puzzles and sitting in the swivel chair in the living room for awhile, Charlie hopped into our bed: “Goo’ night!” I turned off the light.

“Turn off. Turn off. Off. On. Turn on.”

“Light on?”

“Yes.”

I clicked it back on and Charlie lay there grinning, the blankets encasing his body like an enchilada. He rolled and giggled while looking at me, then buried his face in the valley between the pillows. Five minutes later, he got up and went to sleep in his own bed. “Goo’ night.”

For my hero, every day does not have to be an Academy Award winning blockbuster—-a B-movie with some sweet spots deserves its stars too.

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