Waiting to Become Superman
“What are you doing?” I bellowed into the mouse hole.
The pipsqueak voice returned, “Waiting to become Superman.”
“Are you lifting weights in there? Training for a marathon? Squats? Cardio? How does one become Superman?” I questioned the hole.
“No,” the voice returned. “I’m reading a lot of books.”
“What kind of books? Books about what?” I asked.
“Books for really smart and enlightened people. Books that tell me what it’s like to be Superman. And guess what, it sure seems like it’s going to be me.”
“That’s convenient,” I replied. “But how can you become Superman by just reading books? Is it really that easy?”
“Yes,” I heard. “But not just anywhere and not just any books. You gotta read the right books. And you gotta do it in a hole, where there aren’t any distractions.”
“Distractions from what?”
“Petty people and the annoyances of your world,” it said.
“Petty people? You mean people suggesting maybe you’re not Superman? That instead of Superman maybe you’re just some fuck-up in a hole reading convoluted books to make himself feel smart and soulful and spiritually enlightened and of a much tougher character than you really are? In the same way the author must fancy himself above the fray of humanity by his toughness of character and his supreme will and all that shit?”
“Sounds a bit like a cult,” I suggested. “Maybe you should come out here and lift some weights. Drink some protein shakes. Things like that.”
“Thanks for the advice,” the voice returned. “But these books don’t say anything about weights or protein.”
“Okay,” I said. “Then good luck in becoming Superman. I hope it works out.”
“I’m sure it will,” the voice said. “These books make it pretty clear it’s gonna be me. It’s like they know exactly what I think and feel already. It’s amazing.”
“Then the author must be amazing too,” I said.
“And if he’s amazing and his works are so amazing, then, by you studying and understanding them, you’re pretty amazing too.”
“Yes,” the squeaky voice said.
“Well, if you’re so sure you’re on the precipice of becoming Superman, how about coming out of the hole? What’s keeping you so pent up inside your hole?”
“Books? Superman’s tethered to his pit by paper and ink?”
“I can’t be certain I’m Superman just yet,” the voice replied. “I’m waiting for it to reveal itself with complete certainty, then I shall emerge.”
“Making your grand, superhero entrance?”
“Yes,” the voice said excitedly.
“When and how will you know you’ve achieved Superman-ism?”
“When these books make it absolutely clear. I need to keep reading. I need to understand more. They are so deep and rich, the more I read, the more I learn and understand what it is to be me.”
“Maybe they’re designed to be ambiguous,” I suggested. “Sorta like scripture. Ambiguous so that Superman always remains in his hole, wondering what the fuck he is instead of ever coming out here and fighting the bad guys.”
“I’m not a coward,” the hole said.
“Maybe because I’m not a Superman I don’t recognize any of the other Supermen out here. Or, maybe it’s all fairy tales. And a good way of avoiding the reality of Supermen as fairy tales is to remain in that hole pouring over the stories.”
“Shut up,” the voice said.
“That’s all you got, Superman? Shut up? How about coming out here and taking a look around to see what’s real? How can you be anything close to Superman if you’re so afraid of reality?”
“Reality? And what reality might I be afraid of?”
“The reality that you’re not even close to being a Superman. That you, just like everyone else, is as common as dirt. That beneath the gloss there isn’t a superhero’s costume, there’s just a dirty undershirt like all the rest of us.”
“You’re a brute,” the voice said. “You know nothing of what it’s like to be a hero in bloom, so go away. Go on and get away from my hole.”
“Okay,” I said. “Sorry to have questioned you. You’re correct. I know nothing of what it’s like to be a hero blossoming inside a hole.”