Playing the Villain



In my fourth, fifth and sixth years we lived in a tiny house on Crystal Street in New Canaan. Our house had a back yard that was surrounded with a chain link fence with holes just the right size for me to fit my red Ked tenny pumps into to climb. The fence came with the house and my parents had no need to fence us kids in the yard. We basically ran free in our neighborhood either on bikes or on foot.


My back yard neighbors were the Quinns who had a much larger and grander house than ours with a big corner lot. How I remember their name today when I can’t remember what I went to the Harris Teeter to buy an hour ago is amazing to me. The Quinns had sons, two or three, those details are fuzzy. The two I am most sure they had probably flanked me in ages so we tended to play together.


I often was sticking my toes in the chain link fence to climb over to their yard since they had an exciting and somewhat dangerous zip line that ran from a tree house to a porch, where I only had a standard metal swing set in my yard. Our favorite neighborhood game to play was Batman. The show with the “POW,” and “
“WHAP” graphics was big in the mid sixties.


The older Quinn boys of course assumed the roles of Batman and Robin, since it was their tree house we used as a bat cave. One boy who lived on their street whose name I cannot remember was Alfred the butler. I think he was always bringing snacks from home and that’s how he became the manservant. Needing a bad guy to fight against I was almost always assigned the role of Cat woman. I did not really mind because it required me to slide down the zip line standing on the wooden bar and only holding on with one hand.


When other boys would come along we would have a Joker or a Penguin and if a new girl happened to join in she would get to be Batgirl. I can remember wondering if I could be Batgirl when we had other villains, but I was never allowed to veer from my role as nemesis to Bat Man.


In reality I was a good girl, but it was fun to play the naughty one. I think that was my earliest memory of acting against type. Eventually “playing” the villain was a skill I developed. As an adult whenever there are ever negotiations to be done I always play the bad cop. If someone has to be the heavy I was happy to take on that role and not just because I was heavy. The real trick is not to become a villain just because you play one.


The world is not black and white like in 1960’s TV shows, even the ones in living color. Sometimes you are the bad guy and sometimes you are the good guy. That is just the way non-scripted life works out. I’m glad that now I really get a choice between Cat woman and Batgirl, or even commissioner Gordon, nowadays. There is nothing worse than being pigeon holed as a one-dimensional character.

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