Here is Zero the Hero, visiting Mrs. Kubat’s Hermitage Elementary kindergarten classroom on the 180th day of school. Up until then, he was only a cardboard-and-paint figure, but this time he wowed the kids by appearing in the (somewhat portly) flesh.
Zero the Hero, we must understand, fulfills the important role of placeholder, so all the other numbers find their proper places.
Overheard conversations (paraphrased):
Little girl #1: “He’s just a guy dressed up in a costume.”
Little girl #2: “No he’s not. It really is Zero the Hero!”
Little girl #3: (apologetically, to Zero the Hero): “Don’t worry, I believe in you!”
Boy: “Can you fly?”
Zero: “Yes, but I’ve got my jetpacks in the service station for servicing today.”
Teacher: “Besides, he’s not allowed to fly inside the building.”
Teacher assistant: (hiding behind book, blue in face, choking with laughter)
Child #1: “Is he really Zero the Hero?”
Child #2: “Naw, ’cause look, he’s got gray hair. Zero the Hero is young.”
The things you do for love…