He says he wants to be Hercules for Halloween, so I say let's start the lionskin. Lots of heroes wore lionskins, I tell him. Samson wrestled a lion with his bare hands. Gilgamesh killed lots of lions with his friend Enkidu and when Enkidu died he said, "I will grow my hair long for your sake, and wander the wilderness in the skin of a lion." Lionskins and long hair, those are things for heroes, I say. But Hercules, now there's the best hero of all. We have James Riordan's retelling of the Twelve Labors and he is old enough to read them himself now, but we still read them together. He likes this version because unlike on all those pots at the museum, that Hercules wears something to cover his you-know-what. Don't worry, I say. We'll make something to cover your you-know-what.
Can I use this old baseball hat? See we'll cover it with foam, then cover the foam with strips of wool fabric. Now's the fun part: we'll sculpt the lion's head with bags and bags of wool stabbed a million times to form the shapes we want. How does the story go again?
Before he had his lionskin, Hera made Hercules go crazy and kill everyone he ever loved. It's very sad. So the Oracle at Delphi said he had to go to his half-brother the King of Mycenae and do everything he said. First he had to get rid of the Lion of Nemea with skin that no sword or spear could pierce. So Hercules killed the lion with his bare hands. How? Oh, he probably choked him.
Then he turned the skin into his new armor. It made him look pretty tough.
Did I mention the club? Hercules used a club instead of a sword most of the time. His was probably olive wood but just bring me any log you find and we'll make it into a club. I need to put this hipster axe to use, bub.
Next the King sent Hercules off to kill the wold boar of Erymanthus. Before he found it he got into a fight with some nasty centaurs and accidentally killed his old teacher, Chiron.
Yes, Hercules kills pretty much everyone he loves. Why didn't he just kill his nasty half-brother forcing him to do all these ridiculous things? You're not supposed to ask that I think. So he climbed into the mountains to kill the boar. No, I'm not going to lift you up on that wall to club the boar. We'll just have to pretend.
The next task didn't involve any clubbing or killing. There was a lazy king named Augeas who had thousand of animals but never cleaned up any of their poop, and his stables were full of poop as far as the eyes could see.
Hercules had a single day to clean up all the poop. This is why I sometimes call cleaning your room a Herculean task. I wish I could dam and divert a couple rivers to clean out that barnyard.
Next he had to bring back the white bull troubling King Minos in Crete. Try to just ignore the naked butt up there. I know it's embarrassing. I'll try to crop it out.
In his next labor Hercules had to tame the man-eating horses of King Diomedes. No, not Diabetes. Diomedes used to feed his horses people until they developed such a taste for manflesh they wouldn't eat anything else. Hercules fed them with King Diomedes and then cut their chains and bound their mouths so they couldn't eat him.
Next his half-brother sent Hercules to get the golden belt of Hippolyte, the Queen of the Amazons. Yes, they are the ones who cut their boob off so they could shoot a bow better. I can't believe I told you that. Hippolyte was smitten with the hunk in the lion's skin so she just gave him the belt. Wasn't that nice of her. After that they got into a fight and he killed her.
I don't know, Hercules just kills everyone who is nice to him I guess.
Next he had to kill evil King Geryon and rescue his special cows. Geryon lived out beyond the sea so Hercules had to break two cliffs apart to get to the Atlantic Ocean. They call the cliffs the pillars of Hercules even today.
Next Hercules had to go get the Golden Apples from the Garden of the Hesperides and he tricked Atlas into doing that but I forgot those apples we painted gold, so let's just skip to the next one: Hercules had to descend into hell to bring back the three-headed hound Cerberus.
When he got there he asked Hades if he could take Cerberus and Hades was like, "Sure, he needs a walk, if you can catch him. But be sure to bring three poop bags." Hercules was like, "No problem. Have you heard about the Augean stables?"
Thanks to the security guards at the Cranbrook Educational Community for completely ignoring us while we did all this on an unseasonably warm Saturday.