How I kame to be kalled kaptain.
by Kaptain Karl

Two historic periods are important in this development.

Grade seven, Grantsburg junior high.
I created a bunch of superhero alter-egos for classmates.
This may have started as a class project, but who knows. It could have just been a thing I found cool to do. I also, a couple years earlier, had created a list of imaginary middle names for everyone in my grade - they had the correct initial letter, but beyond that, it was just something that amused me. I kept it in my desk, wrapped up and tied with a ribbon. Nobody knew what to make of that. They weren't really offended, because while some of the names were strange, they weren't insulting. I remember a couple of them.

As for the superheroes, I remember Brett was Amazing Man - just a generic strong/fast/durable/smart hero. One of the girls was Insecta - you can guess the power. Jason Geophert was Gamma Guy - can't remember his power. Jason Burkman could run fast - can't remember his name. John Wistrom was Mr. Micro - shinking guy. Christ Coy was the evil genius nemesis. Mandy was maybe Invisi-Girl? But all in all, they were pretty standard superheroes.

I was Kaptain Karl. I specifically remember spelling Kaptain with a K as irony - I had developed a fair amount of outrage at Krispy Crackers and Krunchy Dill Pickles. Cheston was my sidekick, Unga, the Albino Um-boy, whom I met travelling in the Himalayan Alps. Cheston and I got a kick out of that, and probably enjoyed it more than anyone did, but I remember people at least mildly appreciating it at the time.

I didn't get the nickname then, though. People remembered it, but in that "Hey, remember when Joey Reichstedt broke his leg and needed help on the stairs to the cafeteria for six weeks? Hey remember when Darcy Smested played Mrs. Claus in the Christmas program? Hey, remember when Karl made all those characters?" way.

Sometime later.
At some point, for Halloween??? I cobbled together a Kaptain Karl outfit from long undewear, jockey shorts on the outside, a green bath towel and a long-sleeve t-shirt with a green and orange K marked in tape.

Freshman Year, St. Olaf College.
Our corridor acted out lengthy dramas. We often had mob shoot-outs.

It would start when Grim needed a study break, and he'd burst into Jeremy's room shouting "This is for Vincenzo! Blam blam blam!" Jeremy would stagger dying into the hall, and Gunner would swear vengeance. I was a hired gun or Seppie was trying become a made man, or maybe Jon was trying to settle a personal vendetta. Tyler would get caught in the crossfire, and Slava would swear vengeance, and team up with Gunner, but double cross him, and so on... It usually came down to Grim and Gunner facing off in the hall, and Gunner going down. Grim would turn to care for an injured Jon. Unseen, Jeremy wasn't dead, and was raising his pistol. "Donny... behind you," Jon would manage to gasp. Grim whirled around, shot Jeremy dead, said something super-cool, and then returned to a dying Jon. Jon would whisper "Donny... Donny, I.... I..." Grim nodded and cradled Jon in his arms. "I know, man," he said. "I know." Jon would go limp. We were all quiet for a while. Then hopped up and went back to work. Or on to the next game.

We also played the Ben Vereen game. Any time someone mentioned Ben Vereen, everyone in the room had to tap dance. Jon once told us this long story about a car accident he witnessed on the way back to the dorm. "It was snow, and when the car came around past the caf, it looked like it had been veering.... been veering. Ben Veering!" Tappity-tappity-tap we all went.

For reasons I don't exactly recall, but I imagine I instigated, some of us also adopted superhero personas. Grim alternated between wholesome Flannel Boy and the evil Crimson Shadow. Sometimes I was the Crimson Shadow, because I had a red bathrobe. Jeremy was Spider-man, because he had a big tie dyed shirt that looked like a blue and red spider web. Most usually I was Kaptain Karl.

Then it spilled over into the theater crowd, during Interim.

Then, when it became clear that I would drop my homework at a moment's notice and come help with a project, or a video, or a designated driver or whatever needed doing that was more interesting that homework, those guy started talking about Kaptain Karl to the rescue. This was particularly Nate Anderson and Vanessa ______________?

After that, it stuck.

And that's the rest of the story.

Kaptain Karl
defender of the poor
champion of the oppressed
advocate of the innocent

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