Do you ever feel out of place, like you’re a misfit from another planet?
Of course you do.
It’s a common human emotion.
In your case, it’s probably because your mother didn’t breastfeed you, or your father was a tyrannical perfectionist who demanded that you exceed his expectations. Or maybe you’re just a little bit nuts. Whatever the cause, all you have to do to make the anxiety go away is pop a Xanax or slurp a couple of martinis and in a few minutes you’re as relaxed as a government employee on holiday and acting like the life of the party.
But not me.
In my case, I feel like a misfit from another planet because I am from another planet. It was called Krypton, and despite everything you might’ve read about it or me in the comic books, my life hasn’t lived up to the marketing hype any better than the iPhone 4g. Here’s the true story:
I was born on the planet Krypton, just minutes before my home world was destroyed. But my father, a scientist named Jor-El, saved me from certain death by placing me in a rocket and pointing it toward Earth. I was found by a simple and kind Kansas farmer and his wife, who adopted me, changed my name from Kal-El to Clark Kent and taught me everything I needed to know but didn’t want to know about milking cows, feeding chickens and slopping hogs.
According to the handwritten note pinned to my Onesie by Jor-El, he predicted that on Earth I would have superpowers that I could use to benefit humanity. I was supposed to be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I was supposed to be able to jump into thin air and fly.
What a crock.
Turns out dear old dad may have been smart enough to pack me into a rocket and point it toward Earth, but I guess he wasn’t exactly a rocket scientist when it comes to predicting superpowers, because I can’t do any of those things. Stop bullets? Ha! A buddy of mine nearly put out my left eye out in the eighth grade with his Daisy Red Rider Classic BB gun. More powerful than a locomotive? Ha! When I tried out for the varsity football team in high school, it took me three days to come out of the coma after I was hit at the line of scrimmage by John “The Brick” Maslin. Leaping buildings? Ha! I can barely climb the stairs to my second-floor apartment without pausing on the landing to catch my breath.
As for flying, sure, I tried it once. I jumped off the top of my dad’s barn with the colorful tights and cape my mother sewed out of my baby blanket. Knocked out two teeth, broke both my legs and herniated a disk in my lower back that still hurts when the weather gets cold. Now I’m scared to take a United Airlines flight to Des Moines, let alone circle the Earth at supersonic speeds looking for evil villains to battle.
Given my shortcomings, it’ll probably come as no surprise to you that I grew up and entered the only profession that’s open to awkward knuckleheads like me, and that’s journalism. I write obituaries for the Daily Planet in Metropolis. Let me tell you about my co-workers.
My boss, Perry White, is a real jerk and I’d punch him in the nose but I’m afraid he put me in a headlock and parade me around the office like a trained monkey. The woman in the cubicle next to me, Lois Lane, is hotter than a jalapeño pepper in August, but when I asked her out on a date a few years ago, she just laughed and said she’d sooner go out with a loser like Jimmy Olsen, the paper’s photographer, than be caught dead in public with a goofball like me.
Lois and Jimmy got married five months later, and now they have three children—the twins Jonathan and David, and a daughter, Riley.
I tried dating other women, but was never successful. I think it’s the Coke-bottle glasses, or my tendency to over-share, or the fact that because I’m lactose intolerant, I sometimes get a little gassy. So I live by myself in a small walk-up apartment on the west side. You might think I get lonely, but I consider my place my Fortress of Solitude. Nobody bothers me there, and I keep myself busy reading and watching television, or playing chess with a computerized chessboard that I bought at Radio Shack. I also have my hobbies to keep me entertained: I’m writing a novel—it’s a spy novel—and I collect rocks and crystals. I have hundreds and hundreds of them in all sizes and colors. Sometimes I sit in the dark surrounded by the quartzes, amethysts, aquamarines, citrines and whatnot, dozing off as I watch them sparkle and shine by the glow of the flashing colored neon lights outside my living room window.
I wish I wasn’t such a misfit, of course.
Maybe someday I’ll find a piece of Kryptonite in a little rock shop out in the country. My father said Kryptonite would make me weak and frail, like a human. But my theory is that if he was dead wrong about the Earth’s effects on my superpowers, he might be dead wrong about Kryptonite, too. Maybe a deep green chunk of my home planet will give me superpowers. Then I can put it in my coat pocket, walk into work, give Perry a bloody nose, steal Lois from Jimmy, and take her on a round-the-world tour of the Earth from outer space. Protected under my cape, naturally, no rocket ship needed.
Until then, though, I’m going to have to keep learning to live with myself—Superman, the silly misfit.
I tell you, it’s not easy being me.