“Look! In the sky! Is that a bird? A plane? No, it’s…” Well, you know the rest. And if you don’t, hopefully by the end of this you will. The other day on my blog I made a confession. Today, I am planning another… although, this confession will surely be a lot less taxing on the soul and the reader.
My confession is this: I love Superman! I do, I just do. As early as I can remember I was drawn to the red and blue and always true, man from Krypton. From the earliest age and from the first time my eyes met with that swirling red cape I was hooked. Superman was my boy! Forget Batman or Spiderman, it was all about the man who was faster than a speeding bullet!
Everything that I am about to tell you is true. It is a story forged from fragmented pieces of memory as well as begrudging testimonials of my older siblings and late mother. At the age of four, I already knew my career path – I was going to be Superman. No, really, I mean it, I was going to be Superman! So much so, that after watching Superman on VHS for the umpteenth time, I hopped to my feet and sprinted into the kitchen where my mum was having a cup of tea. I leaped into the air effortlessly with the assistance of youthful vigor and landed atop of one of the chairs.
“MATTHEW!” my mum bellowed sharply. “Mum! I am Superman! I need my costume; the city needs me!” I’m pretty sure I said something like that. We were in England at the time. That’s where I was born, so I likely spoke through a child’s voice in accented tone, (let that sink in for a moment – a four-year-old boy with a British accent proclaiming that he is Superman).
Some nights after being put to bed, I would roll onto my stomach and outstretch my arms in front of me then mimic the noise of rushing wind from my mouth while pretending that I was flying through the air. Day or night, I was Superman!
I do not recall the day that I received it, but I do remember vividly the occasions of which I would wear it; my dear ole mum, made me an authentic red and blue outfit, complete with cape and little red underwear – she made me a Superman costume. Or better, she made me, Superman! I wore that thing everywhere. I mean everywhere! I would even sneakily wear it underneath my day clothes when my mum was not looking. On one occasion that is with me in memory, I was at a daycare centre while my mum was at work. The daycare centre does not stand out in detail, but one quintessential element does; in one corner of the open-concept classroom there was a replica phonebooth. Perfect! When my adventurous eyes caught sight of this consummate structure, I knew what I had to do… I put whatever childish toy that I had been playing with down in front of me, stood to my feet and then wandered over to the cardinal colored phonebooth. The closer my little feet got to it, the more buttons I began undoing on my little shirt. When close enough, I reached for the handle and cantered inside, closing the door hurriedly behind me. Once inside, I began wiggling free from the constraints of my mild-mannered attire. Eventually, “Matthew” was crumpled onto the floor within the phonebooth, and I emerged triumphantly clad from head to toe in flawless red and mesmerizing blue, cape and all! I was Superman!
I can’t say that I remember the reactions of the other kids nor the caregivers, but I do know that when my mum came to pick me up, she was obfuscated at the sight of her super-son. She had dropped me off earlier that morning without the knowledge that I had donned the cape and tights underneath of my carefully selected wardrobe.
“Matthew?! How did you get that on?”
“Mu- sorry, miss, I do not know where Matthew is. I am Superman, I can help you find him!”
“Matthew… where are your clothes, now!”
“In the phonebooth, be right back!” This was an event that would repeat itself on many-of-occasion in a multitude of locations, much to the chagrin of my dear mum.
Oh, one thing I should also mention here, in the spirit of confession – you know how when Clark Kent hides around a corner or heads into a phonebooth to become Superman? Yeah, well, when he removes his glasses, he becomes even more handsome and captivating. When I removed my glasses, I became blind. No exaggeration, I could see nothing. My eyesight is so bad that if I told you the prescription strength, your mouths would don the shape of an “O” in shock and awe. I am not kidding. But, you can’t be a superhero and wear glasses! That’s just madness. So, I would often remove my spectacles, leaving them in locations where I was doomed to forget. None-the-matter, I would heroically suit-up and proceed to keep whatever dwelling I was within, safe. I would fight a plethora of bad guys through my minds-eye. Often times my pillow took the form of Lex Luthor, and then took a beating from Super-Matt! It, or rather, he, would be flung down the stairs and I would be in hot-pursuit!
I was always on the look-out for Kryptonite, though. For me, (a blind superhero) Kryptonite often came in the form of table corners or slightly overturned rugs. SLAM! CRACK!! SMASH!!!
“Matthew! Stop running into everything!!”
“Sorry, mum! It was Lex!!”
I was never hurt too badly, though. Until the day that I was… On one morning after waking from youthful slumber, I got-up and ran to the bathroom, I had to pee. And I likely did-so with the accuracy of an out-of-control sprinkler all over the seat. No time to waste though, Lex was around somewhere, I just knew it! I went back into my room and withdrew the super, handcrafted uniform from my drawer. My mother did a near perfect job, I swear to you. I was now decked-out in my super attire and ready to tackle the nefarious deeds of any baddie!
I ran downstairs and barrelled into the T.V. room. My sister was on the couch watching something on the telly. Caring little for her comfort or her ability to hear the show over my ongoing battle with the minds-eye evil doers, I ducked in behind the couch. The couch in the family room had a radiator in behind it. I learned that if I placed one hand onto the radiator (should it not be too hot) and place the other onto the back of the couch, I could hoist myself off the ground and into the air, pretending I was flying upwards and beyond. So, in one fluid motion I grasped both the radiator and the couch and straightened my arms and took flight! Once again, the sounds of rushing air emitted from my mouth. Looking back on it, that annoyance is likely what led to my sister removing herself from the couch to seek refuge from her pesky super-brother in another room. However, when she got-up from the couch, the weight of my tiny, little super body was too much for the cushioned apparatus; it began to tilt backwards and with that sudden shift, my flight was over. I plummeted to the ground below and with a cacophonous BOOM, that couch made of Kryptonite landed atop of my arm and shoulder. The pernicious will of the couch broke my collar-bone in two!
Now drained of my super powers, I got to my feet and let loose a wail of agony that any parent can decipher within seconds; something was wrong. I ran into the kitchen to find my mum. I was not wearing my glasses (of course), so I bounced off a wall here and there along the way.
My Superman days were over. Well, at least for the next four to six weeks…
I am not sure why I recalled this story, but I am glad that I did. I am glad for a couple of reasons; one, it is a story of unrivaled innocence. A purity of a child’s imaginative mind. I lost that innocence early on in my life. It’s nice to know that I have been privileged enough to have felt that at least once. And two, it is a story that involves my late mum. It is a story that as I typed it, I could hear her familiar voice in my ear. And Ironically it is not about me being a superhero – not at all! The fact is that in this story, my mum is the superhero! At the tender age of four, before the world had ever been given a chance to strike me, she made my dreams come true. She took the time to make a super outfit for a super fan and fulfil his dream of becoming, Superman! It doesn’t get much more heroic than that!
Thanks, Mum. Thanks for helping a boy realize a dream.
Super-mum! Rest in peace.