Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Souper Guy and Kami: Part 3

                  One morning as I was about to leave for work, there was a knock on my door. I opened it and found an unmarked package. I didn’t see anyone in the hallway or down the stairs, and when I looked out my apartment window, there wasn’t anyone leaving the building. I opened it and found a shiny, green material with gold trim. I unfolded it and found a full suit of shiny green and gold. In the center of the chest was a brilliantly crafted emblem of a spoon and a bowl of soup. My mind raced back to five years before as my body raced through my closet, rummaging through old boxes of papers and receipts. Then I found the card:

‘quick’ = super speed   
cheese = super sense of humor
broccoli = green and gold

                  I really had no answers other than the fact that there had to be some sort of connection between that fake soup kitchen and everything that was happening to me now. But, in disbelief, one thought kept cycling through my mind, “Spandex. …. Really?“

 I returned my attention to the package. There had to be some sort of clue. In the box was a tiny envelope, and in that tiny envelope was a small slip of paper: ‘Every super hero needs a sidekick.’

My best friend growing up was a kamikaze bicyclist. I use the word ‘was’ because he wasn’t around for very long. He died, I mean moved. Ben was a short and stout guy with black hair that he kept buzzed. Normally he wasn’t one to commit and could be labeled as your typical fence-sitter. But you put the guy on a bicycle and he morphed into this fearless force of indestructible nature. He said it made him feel alive, I said it made him look like Geronimo. He said it was a leap of faith, I said it was a kamikaze. So, I actually started calling him Kami. (That didn’t go over very well in school since our principal, ‘Old Man’ Mirich, was still living in the 1920’s. It also didn’t help that Kami’s favorite color was red.) And then I literally called him… on the phone.
Hey, Kami. So… I guess I’m a super hero now. Do you want to be my wingman?

Maybe. Do I get any super powers?

Like what?

I dunno. Super strength? Or the ability to hear things from miles away? Or eagle powers… that I can summon in time of need.

No. You don’t. You just get to be you.

Hmmm. I like me… …. So… what do I do?

Nothing really. You’re kinda like Robin. You’re basically useless but you give me someone to talk to. And… you get to hang out with a super hero... and wear spandex.

Can I wear shorts instead?

Spandex shorts, yes.

I hung up the phone and stared out the window for a minute. There were so many things I wanted to know. So many questions remained unanswered. So I decided I would not rest until I had gotten the answers… right after my power nap and quick bowl of soup.

And thus begins the adventures of Souper Guy and Kami. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Souper Guy and Kami: Part Two

Five years is a long time. I wasn’t homeless anymore, so that’s good. In fact, I was doing pretty well. I had finally graduated from college and had a great job in a great city. My apartment was clean and in a great neighborhood. Everything was going great. Almost too great. At work I was known as the witty guy. I had won several ‘Funniest guy in the Office’ awards in a row (okay, all of them) because I really did have a great sense of humor, and I liked making people smile. But now it was getting weird. Not only were my jokes funny, they were slaying people. My co-workers would laugh and laugh, harder and harder, longer and longer. Seriously… people were being hospitalized left and right. It was kinda scary. But that’s not the only thing that was scary. I’ve always been fairly athletic, even though I never worked out when I was younger. I was naturally talented in sports and could always run pretty fast. But I was always a skinny guy. So in college I started to work out. Something happened. I started to be able to run really fast. I mean REALLY fast. It was kind of a gradual thing, but I ended up quitting the track team because it wasn’t fair. After college, it continued to progress to where I could out run cars. Then, it got to the point to where instead of sitting in traffic during a 45 minute commute, I could run to work in 4.5 seconds. What was happening to me?
                  I decided to go to my doctor to see if he could explain everything or anything. All of the test results came back normal… except for one. The doctor asked me if I had difficulty breathing, chest pains and/or a large amount of energy. I told him no. I explained that I had heart surgery as an infant because I was born prematurely. I also told him that the operation was a normal, routine process, that it was a success and that I hadn’t had any difficulties as a result. He looked at me for a moment and then said, “No, you’re wrong. It wasn’t a normal operation. They didn’t do to you what they told you they did to you.” He paused just long enough to see the expression on my face change, then he continued. "Your heart is golden."  I breathed a sigh of relief and chuckled. The doctor saw I wasn't taking him seriously and revamped his effort to make sure I understood that he was being serious. "You don't understand. I'm gravely serious. This is the most bizarre thing I've ever seen in all my years of practicing medicine. Your heart is literally made of gold.”

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Souper Guy and Kami: Part One

Some people say the story of one’s birth predetermines the story of one’s life. In my case, I would say that’s accurate… more or less. I was born three months premature. The doctor that helped my mother during her pregnancy explained that I came early simply because I didn’t want to wait anymore. So I paid a few debts, called in a few favors and made things happen. Not only is the survival rate for premature babies extremely low, it is extremely disheartening. Not only does it tug at your heart strings because its sad, it also damages your heart because its not developed enough. I had surgery on my heart as an infant… and then punched that survival rate in the face. I weighed two pounds two ounces soaking wet. (And yes, I’m pretty sure I was wet.) That’s the same size as a hero sandwich that you could find in any big city, like New Orleans or Boston. Coincidence? I think not. You see, I was a super hero once.
I grew up in the ranching world of Wyoming, where manual labor and love of  the slow life is a requirement, not a preference. I also grew up in a world that wanted to conceal certain identities. Superman, Batman and other super heroes lived their daily lives as normal, law abiding citizens, but masqueraded at night as crime-fighting , damsel-saving vigilantes. (I never understood why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tried to conceal who they really were. You’re a giant turtle. A small colored cloth around your eyes isn’t going to make me know its you any less than I already do.) Like I said, I never understood the reasons for safeguarding their identity… until one day. 
I was homeless and looking for a place to stay. (Because of that experience there are two things that I will never be cheap about: laundry detergent and toilet paper. I pay top dollar for top brands.)  I saw some people lining up outside an old abandoned warehouse, so I got in line too. I was hungry and thought it was a soup kitchen. I tried to make chit chat with a guy in an Armani suit. His presence alone should have alerted my brain that this wasn’t a line for people who wanted soup. But, I remind you, I was hungry, and who am I to judge some guy in an Armani suit? The line moved slowly, as if there was no rush to feed my starving stomach. I hadn’t eaten in 72 days, which I now realize was more like 2 hours because some guy gave me the rest of his half eaten Cliff bar, but either way, my stomach was so hungry. Armani and I finally made our way into the large, gymnasium-like room only to find it mostly empty. There were a few long tables with two or three individuals seated at them. There was a sign that said, “Please wait here until called.” They finally called Armani to come forward and I finally got a good look at what was on the tables: a piece of paper. Where was the soup? I was not going to debase myself and eat a piece of paper… again. I turned to leave but was quickly interrupted. “Excuse me, Sir,” stated the lady at the table. “You can come forward now.” I paused for a second, wondering if the garbage can behind McDonald’s was rat free again, but then shrugged my soldiers, turned, and slowly stepped towards the table.
Armani had disappeared somewhere and I couldn’t help but think that he and the soup were in the other room. ‘Maybe they’re just taking orders,’ I thought. “Broccoli and cheese,” I stated matter-of-factly. “And make it quick,” I added. “Excuse me?” said the lady in French. (I knew French because I once read Napoleon’s autobiography. I, of course, am referring to Napoleon Dynamite, the nerdy, curly red headed fictional character, not the French military and political leader during the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte. Apparently, Napoleon Dynamite’s book sold out in like two hours so all they had left was a copy in French.) “Broccoli and cheese… please?” I repeated. The fake French lady and the two gentlemen briefly looked at each other and chuckled. The lady took out a small note card and scribbled something on it. She then smiled a forced smile and handed it to me. It read:

‘quick’ = super speed   
cheese = super sense of humor
broccoli = green and gold

I was a little confused, to say the least, as they motioned me to exit. I walked out of the gym-like room into the brisk, autumn air. I stuck the card in my pocket and slowly walked away. That’s when I realized… I was still hungry.