It doesn't seem unusual for little boys to be fascinated by superheroes. I would expect to be buying toys and T-shirts featuring Batman, Superman, and the rest of that familiar lineup. With four grandsons, I have certainly bought my share of those.
Then, a couple years ago, Pooh developed an affinity for bad guys, particularly Horace and Jasper, the dog thieves in 101 Dalmatians. On every visit for several months, I would have to role-play one of them while he played the other. This wore me out. It seems that, in the process of dog-napping, thieves must expend a considerable amount of physical energy.
More recently, Beenie, who will be four in just a few weeks, always wants me to show him, on my iPhone, images of every bad guy he or I can think of. To this end, we have engaged in numerous discussions of Joker, Mr. Freeze, Penguin, Riddler, and Jesse James. Once, I even threw Clyde Barrow into the mix. It seems I need to increase my repertoire of bad guys I can think of off the top of my head.
Last night, however, Beenie decided to pretend he was a vampire (I have no idea where he learned about vampires--I swear I am innocent this time.). As the potential victim of this particular bad guy, I had reasonable cause to worry. I had to pull my collar up around my neck and think fast.
"What does a vampire look like?" Beenie wanted to know.
"Well, he has sharp fangs, I said." And that's when, by the miracle of free association, I thought of apples. Sure enough, there was a single apple in the fridge that we were able to stretch into a play session of half hour or more.
"How?" you ask. Like so:
Yes, a secret yet untapped by apple promoters worldwide is that apple slices make perfect fangs. A typical apple, we learned, will afford you about ten sets of fangs. Each set will last several minutes from the victim's initial shriek of terror to the vampire's inevitable ingestion of his own teeth.
Luckily, no necks have to be harmed in the process of this particular vampire game. Last night, our biggest problem was the fact that we had only one apple and, thus, had to ration our fangs very carefully.
As it turns out, a little boy's preoccupation with bad guys isn't doomed to an undesirable outcome. As an added bonus to lots of fun and laughs, the kid, in the natural course of play, ends up with a healthy snack, and you can't beat that.