Mark L. Hopkins: Still looking for my superpowers
The local headline said, “Fans turn out for ComiCon.” And so they did. They held a convention for comic book devotees where the participants turned up in costume. Just walking through the lobby, one could see The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, Superman and a host of other comic book characters. There were lots of children but many adults, too. Have you wondered why such fantasies attract full-grown adults? I think I have an answer.
I was visiting at a neighbor’s home the other day when his 8-year-old son came running through the room with a cape on, flying from room to room as you would expect from someone who has superpowers. It didn’t hit me until I was on the way home, I used to have superpowers, too.
All boys pass through a stage where they believe they have superpowers. It usually hits between the ages of 6 and 10, but for some it hangs on well into adulthood. Women believe these fantasies eventually fade and their men become real people. What women don’t understand is that these aren’t fantasies. What goes on in the mind of the male of the species is very real. How else could I account for the broken arm I received from flying off the roof of the garage? Men are born thinking they can leap tall buildings with a single bound or, if given the chance, could be the hero who saved the world. And all men have dual identities, too. After all, Superman had Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter of the Daily Planet, and Batman had Bruce Wayne. Ladies, your men probably have dual personalities, too. How else could he be the hero your youngsters need to look up to and, at the same time, be unable to put a washer in a dripping faucet?
A friend of mine was reluctant to tell how he broke his ankle but finally confessed that he was showing his son how he used to dunk a basketball. In the process he hit his foot on the pole that holds up the goal. Zonk! Off to the emergency room. I sympathized with him but smiled inwardly as I remembered showing my daughter how to ride a skateboard. Zonk! Off to the emergency room. Still, who is going to show those things to our younger generation if not those of us who can call on our superpowers from time to time?
Most would admit that having superpowers is a state of mind that fades as time passes. Memories are exaggerated with the years, and things we recall might not have been exactly as we remember them. I called to invite a high school friend to a reunion and ended up hearing how he high-jumped 6 feet in the county track meet. (He didn’t remember that I was at that track meet. I didn’t call him on that indiscretion. After all, he has a right to his own memories, as long as he doesn’t mess with mine.) I readily admit that I’m now in the memory phase of previous superpowers. And, they improve with age, like a fine wine I’m told.
So considering that such superpowers do exist in the male of the species, what happens to them over the years? There is a simple explanation. Our powers have been zapped by Kryptonite. Where is this Kryptonite? It is in the walls of the offices we work in and the tools we have stored in the garage for whenever we need to save the day. It creeps in with sore shoulder and back pain, my wife’s eyes that roll with disbelief, or my son simply stating with that telling tone of voice, “You’re getting old, Pop.” It doesn’t seem to suffice to use the “Oldsters” lament, “I useta could.”
Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. You will find Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” on Amazon.com. Contact him at email@example.com.