I read comic books as a child. Superheroes, of course. I can remember waiting for my mother at the beauty parlor, working my way through a stack of Spider-Man and Superman and whatever else my father brought home for me.
I read the stories and studied the artwork and repeated the dialogue in the balloons above each character's head. I finished a comic book and started another and reread everything all over again until my father delivered a fresh supply.
It wasn't just the comics I loved. I was enamored of all the advertisements. Exotic things, like Sea-Monkeys. Useful things, like X-Ray spectacles or disappearing ink or stink bombs.
I know now that Sea-Monkeys were just brine shrimp and the only kind of shock the joy buzzer administered was just how quickly the device stopped working once you began using it on siblings and friends.
Don't even get me started on the X-ray glasses.
Depending on the advertising art, you could see the bones in your hand or right through a woman's skirt. I never purchased a pair, but I heard from a reliable source (an older boy at my bus stop) they were a waste of money.
The important thing is there was a time when I believed all these things existed in the world. I never bought the kid from Krypton or the radioactive spider that turned Peter Parker into a webslinger.
I believed in a family of trainable, lovable sea-monkeys. I believed in candles that couldn't be blown out and plastic Money Makers that transformed ordinary pieces of paper into $5 or $10 bills.
As I got older, my father tried to wean me off comics. In an effort to interest me in sports, he started pulling packs of Topps baseball cards from his coat pocket as he came in from the garage.
Baseball cards delivered facts, not false promises.
The pink cardboard gum that accompanied the cards was terrible. You couldn't blow a bubble no matter how many pieces you crammed in your mouth. I collected the cards for a few years, organized the players by team.
I tried memorizing batting averages and RBIs, but my heart wasn't in it.