All dads do embarrassing things for their kids. This is just one very hilarious, very public example.
If, just before the moment of procreation, someone handed you a detailed list of all the ways in which you will debase, degrade and disappoint yourself once you have children, it might well give you pause.
At one level, pre-fatherhood, you know that you’re probably going to get peed on, that you’ll end up with baby poo under your fingernails at some stage, that you’ll attend social gatherings in such a sleep-robbed zombified state that you’ll frighten your friends.
But what you don’t see coming is just how far your standards of public behaviour will fall.
Pretending that you are a Teletubbie, or a Tank Engine, or a monkey are not things that you would have previously considered doing out in the open, but all this and more will be commonplace.
Recently, I even drove a car entirely emblazoned in Iron Man paraphernalia.
Becoming Iron Man’s biggest, dorkiest, most public fan
His face was on the hub cabs, his helmet on the roof. Tony Stark’s signature was splashed around, and a Marvel badge was emblazoned on the bonnet.
What’s more, I drove it for two weeks, in public, just to make my children happy.
I should explain that I sometimes review cars for a living, and thus people lend me all kinds of strange and wonderful vehicles.
I could have said no to the Iron Man Kona when Hyundai offered, yet I knew how much joy my kids would get out of riding inside of what is essentially a toy (one particularly cool feature that drove them wild is that Iron Man’s face comes up on the screen every time you start, accompanied by robot-like noises, and his targeting computer also features on the head-up display).
It would have been harder to say no if the car was one of the many hugely expensive and extraordinarily luxurious Audis that are so regularly featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But then, a company with that level of cool wouldn’t be so willing to turn its car into something this blatantly embarrassing.
Oh, how we debase ourselves
Let me assure you, the potential for feeling foolish in this car is somewhere around that which you’d experience if you walked into a cage of lions wearing Lady Gaga’s meat dress.
Yes, it’s true that just about everyone goes to see Avengers movies these days, and that Iron Man is one of the more credible characters.
But that does not make it acceptable to drive an Iron Man Hyundai, and one that will grab eyeballs everywhere it goes.
In short, watching or even talking about Marvel movies no longer makes you a total nerd, but driving an Iron Man Kona definitively does, and the looks you get from other motorists vary between naked hatred, amused mocking (pull up at the lights next to a bunch of 18-year-old boys at your peril), good-natured humour (tradies) and a mix of pity and shame (women, or at least women who don’t have their own kids in the car, pointing at yours and whooping).
Car enthusiasts are the worst, however, because they look at you with genuine disgust, sitting there attempting to be Iron Man in a small faux-wheel drive SUV built for urban families.
A super hero deserves a super car – Tony Stark looks right at home in an Audi R8, for example – not one that has an engine sound that resembles a Chipmunk singing through a straw.
I must admit my greatest disappointment with this vehicle was not that it wasn’t more able to get up and fly places, but the fact that they missed such a massive opportunity by not having Jarvis’s voice on the sat-nav.
Perhaps it’s just as well, however, because that just might have made my kids’ heads explode.
As it was, their levels of excitement every time we got in the car were almost at dangerous levels – particularly at night, when the puddle lamps light up a picture of Iron Man’s head on the ground.
Worth every jab
The simple fact is that this, truly, made all the derision entirely worthwhile.
For my kids, this was no mere car, no humble Hyundai, it was an Avenger on wheels. A product touched by greatness, and thus better than any Ferrari, Lamborghini or Audi they’ve ever been lucky enough to ride in.
It was also helpful to have them in the car, because when anyone then looked at me with that “Do you have a tiny penis and super-hero pyjamas?” look on their face, I could jerk my head towards the kids in the back to illustrate why I was doing this, while also pointing out that no actual man-child could produce children as wonderful as mine.
The whole experience was thus mostly beneficial, overall, and clearly more fun than pretending to actually be Iron Man in the aisles of my local super market (oh yes, I’ve done that, too).