It's not the lining up for the movie. It's not the obsessive reading and re-reading of articles about plot points and Easter eggs hidden within the plots. It's not the seemingly endless discussions with other fanatics that make me wonder.
What makes me wonder is that in June I will be fifty-seven years old.
I would have imagined that this comic book phase might have worn off just a smidge by now. I am not making weekly or even monthly visits to the newsstand to see what new issues have become available. I don't have online subscriptions to any titles large or small.
But I do get emails providing me with updates as to what is happening in the Marvel Universe. And I make my wife sit down with me and watch previews for movies that she knows will be part of her waiting in line experience in the not-so-distant future. Because this is what we do. I do. So much so that there wasn't a question of buying me that Captain America shirt on a recent trip to Disneyland. And when we made another trip back, and Marvel had officially become part of the Disney empire, I stood stock still when I saw the sign directing me to have my photo taken with Cap himself.
Yes. I know that this was not the real Captain America. Nor was it the actor who portrays Captain America on screen. This was a twenty-something who could pull off the costume and put on a good show for those who decided to stand next to him. Much in the same way that guy we met a few years back was not really Thor, but don't try to tell my wife that. She got to touch his hammer.
I waited for twenty minutes or so, as the line inched forward, until it was my turn. I handed my phone over to the cast member who was in charge of such things and I proceeded to puff up my chest and shake hands and make small talk with Captain America. For just a few moments, it was entirely real. My fanboy meter had red-lined and when I saw the dozens of pictures that came to me digitally from the Disney folks and the ones on my phone, I felt as if I had transcended in some tiny way.
An obsessive way.
Sitting here in my chair, months removed from the incident, I still grin at the memory. And I wonder what it will be like when I'm sixty-four.