Superman. There's no other superhero boys desire more to be when growing up. 'It’s a bird, it's a plane. No, it's Superman!' Music to any small kid's ears while day dreaming of America's oldest comic book hero.
I grew up watching Christopher Reeve's 1980 classic Superman: The movie. My dad introduced the flying capped superhero to me when I was 3 years old. By 4 I knew all the words to the important bits of the movie. By 5 I had my own suit: red cape and yellow undies. So, with Hollywood's Superman reboot coming up in a few day’s time, Man of Steel, I thought I would share my story:
My mom was so cool, when I was 5, I had both Spider-man and Superman costumes. One day I decided to take them with me to pre-school in Port Elizabeth. I packed each one into a yellow Checkers packet. As soon as I arrived I asked my best friend who'd he'd like to be. Just think, two normal boys, two nobodies - instantly transformed into two superheroes! This is what it was all about. Surely! My friend chose Spider-man. We changed in the bathroom at break time. As soon as we were kitted out, we ran screaming out into the yard, with great yells of excitement, ready to defend whoever needed our help. You never quite know what baddies could get up to in our playground forts and hide outs. We were ready for anything! Jason began jumping from tyre to tyre and then climbed a net that hung from a large jungle gym - showing off his Spider-man abilities. Most of the kids were caught up in the fanfare of it all. Some clapped for us. Others ran away. We didn’t care, the adrenaline rush was awesome!
It didn’t take long to realize that my friend Spidey was getting all the attention. "What exactly can Superman do, while Spider-man memorizes everyone with his rope climbing?" A thought popped into my head. It was simple. What does Superman do which no other superhero can do? Fly. I eyed out the highest point possible, the play ground's 50 step slide. Once you’ve climbed 50 steps, you are a long way from mother earth. It took an age to climb to the top. Why not? I had the suit on. I had the cape. When Clark Kent dons the suit, he can fly! So why not I? I climbed the slide, step by step, fearless as Superman himself! I was about to do what no 5 year old had ever done...fly. I reached my summit and called out to my peers in the playground "Hey, look at me." With that I stretched out my left arm, in perfect flying poise. And I took the leap, fulfilling my childhood dream, and launched. And I flew. Straight to the ground. From what I was told, I didn't fly. Well, not for long. I hit the ground hard. A teacher came running. My parents got the call and I landed up in St George’s hospital. I stayed there for two weeks with concussion and internal bleeding. Not quite what I had in mind when I took the leap!
As for my suit…who knows where that went? My mom probably had something to do with that.
I must admit, some 30 years later, I still catch myself dreaming that same dream: flying like my superhero, Superman. I wasn't the first kid who thought he could fly. I’m sure I won't be the last.