Today I was carrying my Copic markers around campus with me. Copics are sort of the King of fancy markers. They are to normal markers what fudge is to chocolate. So I carry mine in a lunchbox with Batman on it. My Batbox, if you will. Normally the Batbox stays hidden in my apartment, but because I had a few projects to work on, I was carrying it boldly around campus.
Which led to a silent conversation.
You’ve probably had these. Full conversations between people where nobody says anything, but the entire thing is clear as day, without speaking. Example.
I had to make a stop in the computer lab to print something. The only other person in the lab was a boy about my age with curly hair poking out from under a Nike beanie. We never spoke, but exchanged looks and a brief telepathic dialogue.
Boy: Oh. Uh. Hey.
I selected a computer far enough away from him to not be strange, but close enough to make it seem as though I were not selecting my computer entirely around whether there was another person in the room and where they were. I set my Batbox down with a light clunk.
Boy: Little noisy for a computer lab, huh?
Me: Yeah, sorry. Didn’t mean to. I’ll be quiet now. See? Just opening my account, checkin’ my e-mail.
Boy: Psht. Whatever. I’m too absorbed in this basketball website to notice you.
Me: It’s okay. I’m so into this e-mail checking, I barely register that you exist anymore. It’s all very existential.
Boy: Yeah. I like basketball.
Me: I got that.
Boy: I’m good at it too. You can tell, because of the way I’m furrowing my eyebrows, all irritated-style, at these scores. That means I KNOW something about it.
Me: Well done. Ooh. This e-mail sure is interesting. They’re hosting a women’s group today? Wow. I’ll just read this extremely carefully.
Boy: Don’t mind me. I’m just analyzing you when you think I’m not looking.
Me: It’s cool. You can notice how into this e-mail I am. That’s because I’m too cool to care whether you care about what I seem to be caring about.
Boy: Is that…what’s that box?
Me: Oh, this? It’s okay. It’s cool. I’m cool.
Boy: Is that…is that a superhero? That’s…wow. That’s a lunchbox with a superhero on it.
Me: It’s Batman.
Boy: Whatever. Basketball is more interesting than this.
Me: No. NO. It’s BATMAN. YOU KNOW WHO BATMAN IS.
Me: STOP IGNORING ME. YOU KNOW WHO BATMAN IS. BATMAN IS AWESOME.
Boy: I repeat. Whateverrrrrrr.
At this point, I am in a silent, seething rage. This boy has judged my Batbox, and somehow found it inferior. SOMEHOW. And I will not rest until he re-notices my Batbox and gives it the respect it deserves. By now, though, he is studiously studying the same basketball page and shaking his head with irritable little noises to indicate how thoroughly disappointed he is with the state of professional sports.
Me: Look. I’m readjusting this box. OH SORRY IS IT CLANKING TOO LOUDLY? I sure hope you don’t LOOK at it, and notice how super amazing it is.
Boy: Man, these SCORES sure do indicate that somebody won the game.
Me: I’ll just examine this box while my next page loads. Huh! This side is EMBOSSED or something. Is that the word? Embossed? It sticks out. All of Batman’s muscles become 3-D.
Boy: I guess somebody LOST that game too. Man. Interesting stuff.
Me: FINE. FINE. YOU KNOW WHAT? I’M NOT COMMUNICATING SILENTLY WITH YOU ANYMORE. AT ALL.
Me: OH MY GOD JUST ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THIS IS A RADICAL LUNCHBOX.
At this point, the boy stood up, checked his webpage one more time, and left. I sat, feeling defeated and unfulfilled. The Batbox stared morosely up at me, its self-esteem broken under this new scorn. Since when do young men not think Batman is the coolest thing since blood.