I’m kind of the Duke of Snark.
But I have to hold off on this one.
And I wish deeply that Herb Caen was still alive so he could have shared in today. I have no doubt that it would have made him proud of the city that he so loved.
What is it about Batkid (or #SFBatKid to be more accurate) that’s so captivating?
Like many others, I tuned it by chance late Friday morning. My wife said there was a picture of Batkid on the internet and when she saw him she began to cry. As did millions of others. Within hours the Twitter and Facebook and international news feeds were lit up with coverage of Batkid as he raced about the streets of San Francisco foiling one caper after another. Workplaces ground to a halt as folks tuned in to the boy’s activities.
The chance to dress up in a bat cape and bound through San Francisco in a Lamborghini cum Batmobile dealing with the likes of The Riddler and the Penguin? I’d do it in a heartbeat. The reality is that little Batkid’s day is the day we all wish for. We all want to be battling the bad guys and saving Gotham, but typically it takes the form of correcting an expense report, or dealing with a call from the school, or recovering from a fight with a parent or child or sibling. Wasn’t there once a simpler time?
In this world, we got enough bad guys. Or maybe just sad guys. The ones who shoot up schools, or overcome by their own prejudices light other teenagers on fire. Or terrorize the city of Boston with mayhem and murder. Or engineer government shutdowns and hold our debt ceiling hostage.
It’s such a relief to have bad guys of the old fashioned stripe. The ones who tie up a Damsel on the Trolley Tracks or try to Rob a Bank or Kidnap Lou Seal the SF Giant mascot. The old timey kind of stuff. The kind of stuff that can be taken out by a 5 year old kid in a bat suit who believes.
Some may ask what 12,000 people could do if they applied themselves to other perhaps greater causes. But it’s not an either/or proposition. As my friend Al Azhderian once said, It’s a Big Tent. One good deed does not preclude another. Our world and our selves can accommodate as many good deeds as we can dream up. In fact, each act creates the space or possibility for even more.
And the thousands who turned out today didn’t do it for the kid. In the end, it’s not so much about Batkid, but about that thing people have been hungering for. It’s about what Batkid gave us. In this sour season, he and Make a Wish reminded us, if only for a moment, of our ability to believe. To believe in the power of caring and love. And in the power of a body of people who for many competing reasons all felt it important to come together. And in our ability to transform reality simply by choosing to make it so.
Is San Francisco really Gotham? Did Police Chief Greg Suhr really go on TV and plea for Batkid to save the city? Did the Giants and the Raiders cheer Batkid on? Did the District Attorney really indict the evil doers? Does Batkid actually have his own parking space? Is it truly Batkid Day for now and forever? And did the President of the most powerful nation on earth (along with competing members of Congress) really give Batkid shouts of encouragement?
Of course not. We all know such things could never really happen. It’s impossible. Isn’t it?
Herb Caen would’ve been the perfect columnist to reflect on SF’s embrace of the Bat Kid. In fact reading his column the next morning would’ve become part of the celebration.