Since their inception, I've been a big fan of the Ninja Turtles. At five years old, I had the graphic novels and just a few toys. When I began spouting out the names of the Turtles, my Mom had no idea what the heck I was talking about. However, she was very impressed that her little boy knew the names of all these renaissance artists. So my Mom (and Dad) watched a few episodes, taking in what was soon to be the TMNT phenomenon. I doubt they knew what they were getting into...
What followed was pure Ninja Turtles insanity. Themed parties, Halloween costumes, Christmas lists full of TMNT swag - it was everywhere. My Dad has video of me dancing with a guy dressed up as Raphael at my seventh birthday party - AND I'm even wearing a TMNT jumpsuit (yes they actually made that). I truly was the fifth turtle during those years.
The Ninja Turtles paraphernalia piled up. My room was a sewer den of TMNT treasures. Curtains, posters, toys - pretty much anything you could think of, I had it. And I loved it. I loved it all.
But then it happened...I grew up.
Although I never stopped liking the Turtles or denied that I was still a fan, the craze was clearly winding down. All my friends had left their TMNT love behind long ago. I outlasted everyone, but I wanted to explore new things as well - things that the Turtles didn't fit in with. Number one on my list - girls.
Suddenly I was hanging out with all these girls. Having fun lingering around at the mall and going to the movies (without my Mom!) It was great - I was growing up and actually liking it. But beneath my bunk-bed, my TMNT collection just gathered dust...
As the years flew by I found myself in college. Although I still enjoyed hanging out with and dating girls, the weight of "having a girlfriend" had lifted. My trips to the mall for pointless loitering had lost their appeal. It was during that first year of college that I got wind of some interesting news...the Turtles were coming back! A new television series was set to kick off that spring. Could it be true? The small flame that use to burn so bright started flickering once again.
On a routine trip to pick up a new toothbrush, the big moment came. In this dinky drugstore, I came face to face with an action figure from the upcoming Ninja Turtles show. The reality sunk in - the Turtles really were coming back. I picked up the action figure - I hadn't seen one in years! My collection was still buried under the bed at my parents house. I gazed at the packaging and the Raphael figure within. It was a lot like the old ones I played with so much as a kid, yet everything about it was different. Right off the bat, they finally got the weapons right! No more cheap, single-colored stuff. For some reason the figure itself seemed more serious to me too - more mature than those original toys from 1988. They were the same characters, but it looked as if they had grown up. Was this some sort of weird symbolism?
I bought the toy (yep, sometimes I call them toys). This re-opened the flood gates. I then bought more action figures, re-read my original graphic novels, and I was even waking up early on Saturday mornings to watch the new show (waking up early in college - no one does that). I didn't go as far as wearing the TMNT jumpsuit again, but I was back in a new-age of Turtle fandom.
During this time, my parents moved out of the house I grew up in. Their new home was in Cape May, New Jersey - about 2.5 hours from my apartment in New York City. They were kind enough to leave one room for me in their new residence. It was a tiny spot at the end of a long hall on the second floor. I was told I could decorate it any way I like. Honestly, I didn't know what the heck I was suppose to do with the thing. All my possessions were in my NYC apartment. But, then it hit me. Even though my TMNT love had re-emerged, I still hadn't dusted off my old childhood collection. The decision was made. This room would become The Sewer Den.