The Year We Took a Family Photo with The Incredible Hulk

She took his head clean off.

My wife Erin had given him to me and he sat proudly atop my computer monitor at work, glaring down at me with rage. When I shuffled the wrong way and hit my knee against the desk, he was the one who got hurt as his head swayed to and fro, his chin knocking against his chest and back.

“WHY HULK’S HEAD SO MUCH BIGGER THAN HULK’S BODY?” he asked in protest. “HULK IN CONSTANT FEAR OF TOPPLING OVER. THIS WHY HULK SO MAD!!”

But my daughter Elora loved him. The attraction was immediate and deep. When she came to visit at work, it was the first thing she reached for. Was it the bright green color ¬†of his head and body standing out so spectacularly against my drab cubicle? Or was it his big teeth ready to chomp on her finger at anytime? I don’t know. But she hugged that HULK bobblehead to death. Then she let go and he hit the ground and his head and body parted ways.

I wanted to cry. My love for HULK didn’t run as deep as hers, but it was pretty spectacular. Who among us, at one time or another, wouldn’t want to, in the words of Tony Stark, “turn into a green rage monster?” You could actually teach a lesson to that bugger cutting you off at the light. That dude needs to be thrown a few city blocks and we all know it. HULK knows it. HULK understands our pain.

Elora was barely one year old. I’d wanted a boy and that wasn’t her. Though I got over that desire long before she was born, I wasn’t gonna not jump at the chance to further indoctrinate my baby girl into the ways of the Marvel Superheroes. She loved HULK? Fine with me.

One HULK had passed away, decapitated for the sake of her lust. Could not another HULK rise in his place?

Cue Wal-Mart. The Ang Lee Hulk movie (terrible) had just come out and the toy aisle was littered with HULKs. Big ones, small ones, even ones that were just HULK Hands. That you could punch things with and they’d make a roaring sound. Nothing would have made me happier than if Elora had chosen the HULK Hands. I wanted to play with them.

Instead, she chose a foot-high, plastic HULK doll with about 17 points of articulation and a look on his face that signified either his constipation or hunger to eat us. I was so proud. Our little girl was growing up so fast, recognizing the superiority of fully articulated playmates to the barely moving My Little Pony garbage she was supposed to care about.

From that moment forward and for the next year, there was nowhere Elora went that HULK didn’t go with her. He was her friend, companion, snuggle buddy and teddy bear at night. She carried him around by the arm, the leg, the head, whatever. He was HULK. HULK can handle anything. Even the mountain of abuse only a toddler could throw on him.

When the Fall came and it was time to take our family picture, there was no way HULK wasn’t coming with us. Elora would scream if he weren’t there and my wife and I had grown to love the big guy. He was one of us. Part of the family. Like Elora’s angry little brother.

But HULK doesn’t just stand by while HULK’s family take picture. HULK insist on being in picture with family.

Who were we to argue?

Sorry for the softness. I guess they thought we were in the Robert Redford version of the Great Gatsby.

The people at the photo place gave us some funny looks. We must have seemed completely insane to them, but we wanted to do something a little different. Nothing wrong with that, right? To this day, it’s our favorite family photo. It marks a specific time in our lives and now, 8 years later, the presence of HULK in that picture conjures far more happy memories than seeing myself with 35 extra pounds ever could.

Elora has since moved on from her love affair with HULK, but she is still quite fond of him. Recently, the pair were reunited. Here’s that little girl with him today:

Cute, right?

What about you? Did you have a toy you were particularly attached to as a kid? Admit that it wasn’t as awesome as HULK and please share below!