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.