You know what I hate? Old people.

Well OK, not all old people. Some old people are still quite capable people. Sean Connery for instance. He’s pretty old, but he still kicks ass. No, what I’m talking about are the old people who are basically the living dead. They don’t serve any useful purpose, and just kind of meander around, using up my precious oxygen and being a burden on the pharmaceutical supply that I could be putting to better use to get real messed up.

Those are the kind of old people I hate.

Now of course it’s some sort of stipulation in the constitution or something that every neighborhood in this country has to have some doddering old fool that everyone knows, and yet everyone kind of wishes would just quietly go away. The sort of person who has long since outlived their purpose in life and yet still try and cling to whatever dim memories they still possess in some vain attempt to make life seem like it doesn’t suck as much as it actually does.

For me, that old person in my neighborhood was Mr. McGovern.

Mr. McGovern, way back before I was bornm used to be a clown on some kids TV show or something that was apparently popular enough to make him Fresno’s biggest celebrity (We try and downplay the “HOME TO JEFFERY DAHMER’S MOTHER!” angle). Of course by the time I came to know him, he had retired long ago, yet still for some reason held the belief that he made kids happy.

So of course, every parent in the neighborhood indulged him in this charade and had him do birthday parties for the kids. I guess it just made good financial sense since he didn’t do it for money, he did it for the love of entertaining the kids.

Personally, I think he just got a kick out of terrifying youngsters. This guy was ancient when I was ten, and the only thing worse than a sagging, wrinkly face invading your personal space to wish you a “Happy Birthday big boy!” is one covered in grease paint with blood red makeup liberally applied around the mouth.

Christ, I had nightmares for months.

Now in high school I had this friend name Michelle. She was pretty hot in a smoldering, gothy sort of way, so I finagled my way into her clique of friends just to feel out the prospects of going out with her. Par for the course it never happened, but it turns out she ruined the lives of every guy who ever got involved with her, and it seemed that half the guys that I hung out with were only hanging out to try and get in her pants.

So I did the natural thing in light of all the competition for the lovin’ and switched up from unbridled attraction to hip disinterest. Because there’s nothing cooler than going against the flow, man.

But that’s neither here nor there. The point is that she got herself knocked up in high school, and one day not to long ago I was visiting my friends in Fresno, and she was talking about her kid’s fifth birthday party with a distinct note of dread in her voice.

“What could be so bad?” I asked. “It’s just a birthday party. Give them some cake and punch and you’re golden.”

“I’m having it at my mom’s house,” she replied, “and she hired Mr. McGovern.”


This guy was ancient when I was FIVE. I couldn’t even comprehend what he must look like nowadays. I imagined he’d be a pile of dust in baggy pants or something by this point.

So as you can imagine, we were invited along to try and keep her company with the rampaging children, and perhaps offer counseling to those who hadn’t been exposed to the horror of Methuselah the Clown. But god, even nearly 20 years later, I didn’t want to see this man again.

At the appointed hour, the children were herded around the back patio, an adult planted at every possible escape route to make sure Mr. McGovern had a captive audience. Then, through the sliding glass door, you could see into the darkened house and just barely make out a ghostly white image starting to make its way outside.

Slowly, ever so slowly he walked, his comically oversized shoes dragging across the ground, his red and white striped baggy pants held up with rainbow suspenders over a polka dotted shirt that hung loose on his emaciated frame. Then he finally reached the door and came outside, his horrible wizened face pulled into some sort of blasphemous mockery of a smile, teeth missing in his maw.

Oh god, it was terrible. I swore I thought this guy had become fossil fuel by now.

Oblivious to the fact that the children were literally recoiling in fear, he proceeded to do his little act with the balloon animals and squirting flower and everything. The children stared in mute horror at this… this… this THING performing before them, each and every last one of them wondering what they’d done that was so bad that they’d been sent to witness it.

I, too, was captivated by the sheer grotesqueness of it all. It was too horrible to watch, but too horrible to turn away. That’s when the banging of the garage door leading into the backyard tore my attention away, and what did I see?

BATMAN! Kicking down the door and running into the backyard…. um… I guess there’s really not a lot of places to do a dramatic swooping action in suburbia.

Anyway, Batman leaped over the heads of the surrounding adults and deftly picked his way among the little kiddies, working his way towards the clown.

“Alright Joker, the gig is up!” he shouted as he grabbed McGovern by the throat.

The children cheered.

“Huh? What’s that you say?” McGovern shouted (He’s quite deaf, actually)

“You think you can get away with terrorizing little kids? You monster! See these balloons? FULL OF SMILEX GAS!” Batman snagged all the balloon animals and incinerated them with napalm.

The children cheered.

“And this squirting flower? FILLED WITH ACID!” He hurled a Batarang from point blank range, plunging it deep into the squirting flower (And presumably his chest.)

The children cheered.

“This time you’ve gone too far, Joker! I’ll fix it so you never hurt anyone again!” At which point Batman started to batter poor Mr. McGovern’s brains right out of his skull and break every bone in his body.

And the children cheered.

I’d have stepped in to tell Batman that he was making a terrible mistake, but really it was probably the best performance McGovern’s ever done, actually.

So after a while, Batman stopped pounding on this decrepit old sack of bones that was dressed as a clown and turned around to face the kids. Oh man, if you could see the smiles on those children’s faces… They were the most grateful expressions I’ve ever seen.

Batman stuck around for a while to entertain the kids… He made balloon bats (He didn’t know any other animals), took them for rides in the Batmobile, gave them all free Batarangs as party favors, and taught them all 18 different ways to kill a man with your bare hands.

It was the best birthday party ever. Where was he when I was five?