Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Problem with Superheroes

If you are a superhero, raise your hand.

I know many superheroes that read my column and I appreciate all of you and what you do. I just found out this week that my wife is a superhero of sorts. What is her superpower you may be asking yourself. Good question. She has been giving the superpower of smell.

That woman can smell anything from like 100 yards away.

She can just be walking along and suddenly stop: “I smell gas,” she’ll say. I always assume that it’s a certain type of gas, and sometimes it is, but usually she’s talking about gasoline and not the type I’m thinking.

But she uses her powers for good and I love her for that.

Superheroes are an interesting bunch and I have to admit that I’m a big fan of Superman. Superman, I admit, is probably the best superhero ever. He has all the good superpowers: x-ray vision, flying, running really fast, able to disguise himself as a mild-mannered reporter with just a pair of eyeglasses. That’s pretty big stuff.

Batman is also arguably one of the best superheroes. Even though he doesn’t have any real superpowers — unless you count the ability to “ka-pow” a villain. The newest version of Batman is pretty cool with his utility belt and his deep voice and the sweet Batmobile, which also turns into a pretty awesome motorcycle.

Spiderman is also a great superhero with his ability to climb walls, sling spider webs, take amazing photographs of himself and get paid for them.

Hulk might be superhero I feel most sorry for. Every time that dude gets mad, his clothes explode off of him, except for his pants, which not only grow in proportion with the Hulk, but turn an amazing color of purple. It must be somewhat of a pain in the hind quarters to continually run down to the local Gap and purchase trousers.

“Wow, you’re back again, Dr. Banner” the clerk would say.

“Yep, I just need a couple more pairs of those britches over there,” Bruce Banner would say. “Give me a dozen in size 32. You don’t have purple ones, do you?”

If I were a superhero, I’m not sure what superpower I would want. I like the whole flying thing and being able to have x-ray vision would be a bonus. But I think ultimately, if I were given a superpower, I would like to have the ability to eat Twinkies and not gain weight. I would eat them by the case, then go fight crime or watch “CSI-Miami.”

I would probably settle for amazing ninja skills.

I have a lot of questions about superheroes too. Why can’t Robin fly or fight or “boom” a villain?

Why doesn’t Spiderman have a sidekick? What is the deal with Aquaman?

It must be tough being a superhero all the time. For Batman, he has to choose whether he just wants to sit around and spend money and live in a nice house and vacation in Bora Bora as Bruce Wayne or if he wants to fight crime in a place where crime, serious crime, is just running rampant. That is a tough choice.

All Superman wants to do is write amazing articles for the Daily Planet and take Lois Lane to dinner and a movie every now and again. But he can’t do that. If he shows his true feelings for Lois, then every bad guy in the known universe would try to kidnap Lois and trick Superman into giving himself up and wearing a suit of kryptonite.

And then there’s Spiderman. Peter Parker has to live like a spider and all he wants to do is get  Kirsten Dunst to notice him. She doesn’t even notice him. It’s really sad. And he wants to tell her he’s Spiderman so bad, but he can’t, because then she’ll be susceptible to all the crazy bad guys out there, just like Lois Lane.

Superheroes can’t have a life. They can’t have love. They can’t even get a decent pizza without somebody crying for help.

When I was in Key West recently, I saw a guy dressed up as Spiderman sitting on the street and playing a sitar. And I thought to myself, maybe that’s the real Spiderman. Why wouldn’t he come to a place like Key West, where the weather is perfect and the crime rate is low and there’s plenty of opportunity to take pictures and date Kirsten Dunst? Maybe Peter Parker finally figured it out. Maybe he just wants to sit on the street and play the sitar. I know I would.

But, alas, Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne and Bruce Banner and all the other superheroes can’t just leave their crime-ridden cities. They have a calling to superhero-dom. That is what they do. That is who they are.

There are many people who are superheroes in everyday life right here in reality too. They teach, nurture, mentor, discipline, serve and protect every day people. Sometimes they want to escape reality, to live behind the life they are destined to lead. They want to run off to Key West and play the sitar for a few coins and Twinkies. But they can’t.

They are called to superhero-dom. That is what they do. That is who they are.

So go out there and be a superhero in your neighborhood, or your town or your world. There is always some damsel in distress that needs help. Maybe you can help by lending a hand, offering a smile, or giving a sympathetic ear.

I’m glad for the superheroes in my life. My kids are superheroes to me. They inspire me and teach me stuff all the time. My friends are always there when I need them. And my wife is a superhero to me every day. I’m glad she’s in my life.

I just can’t take my shoes off when she’s within 100 yards.

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