Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

When you're on a six-hour car trip and the only person tired enough to sleep is the driver, there's not much to do except talk. And when guy in the back seat is a secretive avenger of the night who never says three words where none will do, that puts the burden on the third person. I present:

The Secret Origin of Perseid

as told to


"No, I've just got the one bag. I'm traveling small.

"Well. I was being pessimistic. I really thought I'd be going home after this weekend.

"East Sarmins. You've probably never heard of it. It's just a little place.

"Does it? The only thing . . . have you ever heard of the Liberators?

"That was it, then. East Sarmins was one of the towns that got Liberated. We had been taken over by a supervillain named Snowdragon. I don't remember much about him, but he stole my little sister. Then the Liberators came in - Alligatrix and Silverfox and all those. They went into Snowdragon's ice-mountain-thing and pulled him out in handcuffs. They brought Manda back to us; she was fine.

"I was so grateful I couldn't figure what to say to them. Finally I yelled, 'I'm gonna be a superhero too when I grow up and I'll save all your sisters!' They laughed, but I felt like I had made a promise.

"Well. From then on, anytime anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, 'A superhero!' And then they'd say, 'No, really.' Whenever I went to upper school and we all had to talk to the guidance counselor, he asked me what kind of career I wanted. I said, 'I plan to be a superhero.' And he'd tell me to be realistic.

"I was serious about it. I thought of all the different super-powers, and what my superhero name should be depending on which ones I got. I kept a list, and if I thought of a better name than the one I had, I'd change the list. For a while I had a costume made out of an old ballet outfit, but I outgrew it.

"After upper school, I started in to get a diploma in criminology, but it was more boring than I thought it'd be, so I switched to accounting because that's what my friend was taking and she said the instructor was cute.

"That was fine. Then I got the job at the pet store, which was great because I love animals, and it was close to home so I could take care of my parents. They don't get around that well.

"Now. Last month I was babysitting for Livvy next door, and she was watching her DVD of Pinocchio. It got to the part with the song, you know, 'When You Wish Upon a Star'? And Livvy asked me what I'd wish for. And I said I wished I had super-powers. The star on the screen twinkled, and I had super-powers.

"That was scary. It was easy to want to be a superhero when there was really no way I could be. It's sort of like if you're little and you say you really, really want a pony for Christmas. There's no everlasting way your parents would ever get you a pony, but you keep asking. Then on Christmas morning you see a giant box, with airholes, by the tree, and you say to yourself, 'My bedroom's kind of small to keep a pony in.' It's like that. Once it becomes real you feel like a real awko for the way you used to have no idea.

"Then I figured, well, I can't say I didn't ask for this, so I got a mask and went to Los Angeles for the weekend and flew around looking for some crime. I would have liked to stay in East Sarmins with my parents, because that's kind of a superhero thing to do--"

["Like Spider-Man and Aunt May," I said. "Exactly!" she answered.]

"--but really the town isn't big enough to support any kind of crimefighting. I didn't come across any bad guys in L.A., but Daylighter found me and invited me to the meeting, and now I'm in your car listening to . . . what is this, opera? And I'm glad."

Footnote: when we finally got to the office, she took one look around and said, "You know what would make this place look nice?"

"Some fish tanks?"

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