Oh My Hero, Captain Underpants!

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There are very few reasons a seven year old boy would be excited to wake up at five in the morning. However, in August of 2002 I was going on vacation and didn’t care in the least. Everything was exciting to me: the hour trip to the airport, waiting in line to check our bags, even eating airport food. My enthusiasm was boundless until my mother did the worst thing possible. She reminded me that since I procrastinated all summer, I would have to complete my summer assignments whilst on vacation. Before I could even voice a protest she started dragging me to the airport’s little Barnes and Noble and told me that we wouldn’t go on vacation unless I picked out a book. Seeing the stern look, the unrelenting gaze, and hearing her strict tone, my pre-pubescent mind could only conclude that she would undoubtedly cancel the whole entire trip if I did not pick a book immediately.

Now I could abide learning about George Washington and multiplication, I even found some enjoyment learning about magnets and our atmosphere, but I absolutely abhorred reading. My mother knew this and was forever pushing me to read books, magazines, or anything with printed words on it. Nevertheless, I was seven years old, extremely stubborn, and would not listen to any of my parents’ pleas that it was important for me to read. Yet on that day in August 2002, I was trapped between a rock and a hard place. I quickly found the most interesting book in the store, Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants, and gave it to my mother for approval. The book had an abundance of pictures and was only about 100 pages with oversized print; it was the best one I could think of getting. My mother let out an inpatient sigh, resigning herself to the fact that this was the best situation she could have hoped for and bought the book.

Not wanting to interrupt any of my precious vacation time, I grudgingly set about reading the book on the two hour flight from New York to Florida. At first I found reading a chore as it usually was, but as the flight dragged on I read more and more of the book, becoming completely engrossed. I finished my book by the time we landed and went to my parents for inspection. Incredulous, they leafed through the book and asked random questions to test if I had actually read it and 15 minutes later decided that I actually wasn’t lying. Delighted that I had read a book, they promised me a reward and to their amusement I asked that it be the sequel, Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman.

It has been almost 10 years since I began my adventure with Captain Underpants. In that time I learned magic at Hogwarts with Harry Potter, been imprisoned at Château d'If alongside Edmond Dantès, and educated on how to be a prince by Machiavelli. Books have influenced my life on an immense scale, almost to the point where some can consider me addicted. I took French for six years because I wanted to emulate d'Artagnan. My debt to the local library for overdue books is more than I weekly spend on food. I have been known to say “hence” or “forthwith” once in a while and my dearest wish is that I can still go to school at Hogwarts. I’m also pretty sure I’m one of the only people to be grounded for reading books when I should have been doing my chores.

However, it’s not just fantasy or fiction that makes me so interested in reading. Before reading George W. Bush’s Decision Points I wasn’t concerned about world events at all. I now become engrossed in subjects I never cared for before. Today I watch BBC when I have time and browse through articles on the CNN website. It’s the fact that every time I read a new book, series, article, etc. I feel as though a new door has opened, and there is something new that I need to explore. I know that in college I will find a major that interests me and study it with the same zeal I have for any book that catches my eye.





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