Early one recent morning, in the bathroom…
MILLIE: Who is that on your t-shirt?
ME: It’s the Thing. He’s a superhero.
MILLIE: What is he…? Why does…? Why…? Why does he look like that?
ME: Because he’s made of rock.
MILLIE (mystified): He’s made of rock?
ME: Well, I don’t think he’s made of rock, but he’s certainly got rock for skin.
MILLIE (still mystified): Why? How did he get rock for skin? Can he still move?
ME: Yes, he can still move – otherwise he’d be a statue! His skin makes him super strong and super tough. He’s one of the Fantastic Four, a team of superheroes.
MILLIE: How come he’s a superhero?
ME: There are four of them and they went into space and got hit by cosmic rays and it turned them into superheroes.
MILLIE: What are the other ones?
ME: There’s the Thing, obviously; there’s Mr Fantastic, who’s all stretchy and rubbery; there’s the Human Torch who is on fire, and there’s the Invisible Girl, who can turn invisible and make invisible force-fields. Do you know what force-fields are…?
MILLIE: Do they all look like the Thing?
ME: No, Mr Fantastic looks perfectly normal except when he’s stretching; the Human Torch does, too, unless he’s on fire, and…
MILLIE (doubtfully): Why does he catch fire? That sounds rubbish. Who wants to be on fire?
ME: No, he doesn’t get burnt by it, and he can fly. He’s only on fire when he wants to be.
MILLIE (intrigued): Can the Thing stop being rocky if he wants to?
ME: No. The Invisible Girl can stop being invisible, though; and Mr Fantastic can stop stretching.
MILLIE (skeptically): Why can’t the Thing stop being made of rock? Does he like being made of rock?
ME: No. In fact, that’s a big part of many of the stories.
MILLIE: Why doesn’t he like it?
ME: Because he can’t feel things, because he’s made of rock. And his fingers are big and clumsy, and he’s very heavy – he can’t sleep on a normal bed.
MILLIE: Why can’t he sleep on a normal bed?
ME: Because he’s really heavy – because he’s made of rock – and it would break. Oh, and Mr Fantastic is really really clever, too – he built the rocket that took them into space where they became the Fantastic Four.
MILLIE: When the Human Torch catches fire does it hurt him?
ME: No. Which one of the Fantastic Four would you like to be, do you think?
MILLIE: Hmm. What can the Invisible Girl do, again?
ME (staring at Millie): Turn…invisible. And make force-fields. And she’s very clever, too. Would you like to be her?
MILLIE: Not really. Why did they go in space?
ME: Just to see what was out there, I think.
MILLIE: And they came back like that?
ME: Yes – although, it’s only a story, it’s not real.
MILLIE: How does the Thing sleep?
ME: What? Oh. Well, he can sleep OK, but he would break a normal bed if he laid on it.
MILLIE: Because he’s so heavy?
ME: Because he’s so heavy.
I love having these conversations with the girls. I might recount them here leavened with sarcasm, but the thought that I’m passing on the torch of nerd wisdom to the next generation always makes me smile.
Next week – when Nova flies do his legs disappear before or after he takes off?
When very young I remember discussing with Trev which came first, because Nova was always drawn with his legs blurred out when flying I always assumed they disappeared; but if they disappeared before he took off wouldn’t he fall over??
Seriously! I remember having a long chat with Trev about this particular problem!