Monday, April 20, 2009


A simple name. Short for Charles? Or did your parents only call you that when they were angry?
The first time you saw Luke Skywalker, you wanted to be him. You held your own lightsaber, gritted your teeth, and flared your lips under your round glasses. shhoom zoom! Your friends in princess gowns and pirate hats would fall, giggling, amongst the jack-o-lanterns, as you thrust your saber toward their hearts. i'm sure theirs weren't the only hearts that were broken, then. Your mother stood beside and laughed, tears in her eyes, at your play. Her own little Jedi, growing up into a fine young man.
The next year was the year she got you that cape. Superman -- no problem too big for you to fix -- nothing you cannot solve. You flew about the kitchen, a flash of red between the curtains, under the stairs. You teased your brother, flying some more, calling to him, begging for him to be a villain.
There came a time, I suppose, when the cape grew a little too small for your neck. And both you and your brother realized there were far more important things to do than play superheroes. He was caught up in his garage band, and you had homework and friends to do it with. I'm sure you often just gave them the answers and you'd then spend your time cracking jokes and making paper footballs. Of course, your friends would end up paying for their lack of studying with their test scores, but you always seemed to do well, without even cracking a book. And of course your friends would give you a hard time about it, and maybe secretly, in the back of their minds, they were waiting for the day they'd beat your science score.
Yes, the cape is gone now, but you still lived your dreams of flying and fighting crime with the doodles along your notebook margins. They weren't good, but they got the message across. There he was -- the amazing Superman -- a giant hole in his side, where the three-hole punch had earlier impaled the page. You'd end up leaving these stray sketches at the bottom of your locker, and sooner or later they'd find their way to the trash, but they were there. Superman was there, waiting to fly.

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