I am a superhero. When I was little I wore my coolest pajamas and a towel cape pinned around my neck and run around the house taking on the evil villains who threatened my family and the human race at large. I did a pretty good job. No one was killed or maimed under my watch. As I grew older, I stopped wearing the pajamas and towel (in front of people), but as noted male psychologist Jerry Seinfeld has observed, many so-called adult men don’t see superheroes as fictional characters: they see a plausible career path.
But as we grow older, we grow wiser—no, wait, that’s another piece. As we grow older, we grow slower—physically, mentally, and in terms of superpowers. I noticed this the other day when my wife Kathi and I were hurrying to a doctor’s appointment. (You never see superheroes at doctor’s appointments. “Okay, Spiderman, turn your head and cough; and again; and . . . hey, what’s this sticky stuff all over me?!”)
Kathi is dealing with what we euphemistically refer to as a “health challenge.” She is recovering from a hip replacement, so her superhero power (attending thousands of social functions a week while maintaining a full workload) has been hampered of late. The upside is now, because of her titanium hip, she will have a new superpower—doing the dance known as “the bump” and sending villains crashing into walls.
Kathi was making her way down the stairs one step at a time to get to our Honda Batmobile, which we keep in our special Batcave garage. Meanwhile, I was bringing the various items we needed—her purse, my keys, my brain, etc. Kathi got in the car on the passenger side and I hopped in the driver’s side. Kathi then politely pointed out that her door was still open, so I got out and closed that, then hopped back in the driver’s side. I dug around in my pockets and eventually found my keys, then realized I had forgotten my cell phone. I ran back upstairs and called my cell on the landline, which helped me locate it wedged into the couch, which I had been sitting on, staying abreast of breaking television information.
When I was once again in the driver’s seat, I opened the garage and backed out. I did this very slowly, because we live in a 1940s era San Francisco home with a garage and driveway width designed for what I assume were very narrow cars. It takes real care to back out without knocking a mirror off, like I did last year. I checked that there were no passing pedestrians, because California law frowns on running them over, like I did last year (just kidding!). Then I navigated the even narrower passageway between the two cars that are always parked on either side of our driveway. And since we live on a rather steep hill and cars are always flying down the street, I put on my hazard lights, backed the car’s rear end into the street, got honked at, pulled forward into the driveway, and repeated this several times until I had the car fully in the street, per our superhero strategy.
Then, about halfway down the block we had this conversation, as we always do:
“Did I shut the garage door?”
“I think you did.”
“Are you sure?”
“I think you did.”
“I think I did, too. But I’m not sure.”
“I’m not sure either.”
“I’d better go back and check.”
I drove around the block, as I always do, took note of the fact that the garage door was indeed shut, as it always is, and then set off to the doctor’s—and, wherever needed, to take on the villains of the world.
Sure, Kathi and I aren’t the superheroes we once were. We don’t look quite as imposing in our pajama/towel outfits. We aren’t as quick as we were, and our memories aren’t as sharp; but like the tortoise, we will beat the hare every time, assuming the hare is stupid enough to take a nap in the middle of the race like he did last year.
But when that Bat Signal appears in the night sky, rest assured that we will respond with all due speed, as soon as we get the car out of our garage, which will be after I find my keys. However, if you have a crime problem during the day, we suggest you try Superman, since the Bat Signal doesn’t show up so well in the daytime sky, and our eyesight isn’t what it once was. And anyhow, we’ll be busy at the doctor’s office.