Rogue Element #86: Mitzvahs for Mutts, Biker Buddies and Comic Book Santa Clauses
By Avril Brown
Everyone goes nuts for a good deed. People love it when someone is unexpectedly thoughtful and generous, and most people like being responsible for such euphoria. True there are those who perform good deeds for less than altruistic reasons, but even so the implied definition of a good deed is an act of kindness which promises little to no compensation, meaning whoever commits a good deed on some level likes to make people smile. Any good deed, no matter the grandness or simplicity, often results in uncontrollably genuine smiling, which is an amazingly agreeable activity. Enjoying the little things is not only Zombieland Rule #32, it is also an excellent life philosophy.
Several months ago I received an unexpected but most welcome surprise in my mailbox at work. Someone had placed a 1993 issue of a comic book entitled ‘Supreme,’ published by Image Comics, in my mailbox. I had not previously read this particular series, but I was nonetheless glowing at my gift. Immediately I began reading the comic as I wandered my workplace, showing it off to every person I met while simultaneously asking if they were my nameless giver of free comics (whom I quickly dubbed the Comic Book Santa Claus), but no one claimed responsibility. Later in the week, I received another book. Different title, same reaction: sheer, undiluted joy. “Is it wrong that I am in love with my boyfriend but I also have a serious crush on whoever is giving me comic books?” I asked my co-worker, who replied in the negative. Since then I have received several books from a range of titles, including a ‘Ghost Rider #6,’ a ‘Batman vs Predator II’ graphic novel and a Frank Millar/John Romita Jr. ‘Daredevil’ issue. A copy of ‘Spider-Man #14’ (from 1991, not to be confused with ‘Amazing Spider-Man #14’ from 1964, which is currently selling at four thousand dollars in mint condition. As generous as my Comic Claus is I doubt I’ll be finding one of those in my mail slot at work) came accompanied by the only written communication from my Comic Claus. “Please take care of this one; it has one of my favorite artists,” was all it said, and Todd McFarlane’s (creator of ‘Spawn‘) name appeared on the first page as author and illustrator. McFarlane’s gripping story and darkly beautiful artistic spread on the second and third pages would be reason enough to heed the understandable request if I did not already give the utmost care for every single gift. The identity of my Comic Claus is still a mystery to me, and I am surprisingly content with that fact (though I certainly wouldn’t mind the opportunity to give my benefactor a big squishy hug). If the gifts carry on, I will continue to read each typically the same day they arrive in my possession, and be forever appreciative of the kindness of my CC by leaving a thank you note for each and every issue, with the occasional offering in the form of a jar of market honey. Perhaps this person no longer cares for comics the way I do and is utilizing my enthusiastic appreciation of the medium, but I think it more likely my Comic Claus is a person of great generosity of spirit, nerdy in nature and an unpaid professional in making people smile.
Several weeks ago my folks were enjoying a cruise around Alaska, and I was enjoying a house in Evanston all to myself. I was watering plants in the backyard when two dogs suddenly appeared out of nowhere, tails wagging and tongues flopping at a rather twitchy rate. Chicago was suffering from one of the many freakishly hot days we had this summer and the poor dogs were obviously dehydrated, stressed out and lost. Though they initially ran away when I approached them, their retreat seemed to stem from a logical wariness than any true fear of people, and with the skills garnered from years of working at an animal shelter (namely the common sense to offer a water bowl and some dog treats) I was able to coax them into staying in my yard. They had no collars and therefore no “Hi, my name is Cerberus! Phone number: (666) 666-6666” identification tag, but they were very friendly when shown some kindness and a big bowl of H2O. They also knew sit, down and paw and seemed to take comfort in backyards, which roughly translated to them being pets who had recently misplaced their humans. I have always been an animal lover and a bleeding heart (working at Chicago’s largest animal shelter hasn’t diminished these traits), so for me the choice was clear: Bribe the beasties enough to keep them in the yard while I called the non-emergency police in an attempt to reunited tired, mildly freaked out dogs with their undoubtedly worried human family. After only about fifteen minutes, two officers arrived with a relieved boy in tow clutching leashes and empty collars, and the good deed doer in me was able to see the kid and his best furry friends reunited. I got an unexpected ego boost as well: as they pulled away, the officer I knew stopped the squad car twenty feet away, got on his rather loud radio and announced to the whole block that I look just like my sister (she’s more a little gorgeous). Beaming, I took the compliment and went on my merry.
Someone has been looking out for me lately and I was the receiver of another good deed a couple weeks ago. This one was a real sanity saver as I had been riding my bike and just received my second flat tire of the month while on my way to visit my mum, sis and baby niece. A few minutes of colorful curses were loudly uttered until I fully started realizing the precariousness of my position: I was on the lakefront trail with no clue as to the location of the nearest bike shop and only a vague idea of where the nearest El stop might be. Right before I entered full panic mode, a gentleman riding the trail pulled over and told me there was a shop only a few blocks from where we were standing, definitely walk-able and capable of fixing a flat. I almost kissed him in elation. He shared with me his plan of going fishing that day but he had forgotten an extra inner tube in case of flats, and since he didn’t have a tube to offer me he was glad at least he was able to point me in the right direction. Well your good deed really saved my bacon, Biker Buddy, so thanks again for the help.
Since my Comic Claus began his/her frequent philanthropy, I have made an attempt to be more aware and grateful of the good deeds going on around me, as well as contributing to the movement more often. I am not a very complex person, and randomly receiving an unknown comic book at my workplace makes me an extremely exultant individual, inspired to help someone else feel this delighted. Take stock of the good deeds surrounding you for they are ideally occurring on a daily basis, but if they are not then be the one to, as Jean-Luc Picard would say, make it so. Be the good deed you want to see in this world, and watch as your life becomes all the brighter.