The Slice

The Short Flight of the Boy of Steel

It's a funny thing about family stories.

Hear the same one often enough and you can start to wonder. Do I actually remember the incident? Or do I simply recall hearing the tale told and retold?

When the witnesses are gone, there's no one to ask. 

My father was in the Air Force. And when I was an infant and preschooler, my family moved several times. I know we lived in Texas and California. But I'm pretty sure some of my earliest memories can be traced back to Altus, Oklahoma.

I remember a yellow squirt gun. I remember seeing a horned toad in the backyard. I remember the way my mother seemed shaken by a phone call from one of her sisters back in New Jersey.

And I recall the time I tried to fly. At least I think I do.

Now if you are reading this because I referred to the incident in today's print column, you already know where I'm headed.

So I should make it clear right away that TV's "The Adventures of Superman" did not prompt me to jump off the roof or leap from a tree. No, my attempt to emulate the Man of Steel was confined to the living room. The only thing hurt was, as they say, my pride.

And the truth is, I might not really remember it. But my father, brother and sister sure did.

They loved to talk about how, after donning a bath towel cape, I sprinted into the living room and launched myself into the air.

"Look...up in the sky...it's a bird...it's a plane...no, it's a crazy 4-year-old!"

For a brief, shining moment, I achieved level flight. Or so I was told.

Arms stretched out before me in a familiar pose, I hastened to my rightful calling as a child of destiny. Unlike mere mortals, I wasn't stuck to the surface of the planet.

Then gravity, that cruel crusher of dreams, awoke and remembered her duty.

As the story goes, I landed with a resounding thud but fought hard to maintain my composure as I made my humbled exit.

But I guess every kid needs to find out if he or she is endowed with superpowers. As it turned out, my only superpower was super-patience when my family rehashed my takeoff and landing for the millionth time.

In my case, it's just as well that the flight was cut short. There wouldn't have been room for me to make a mid-air course correction there in the living room. And if I couldn't turn, well, the Boy of Steel would have had to keep going straight.

We were renters and I have to guess my parents would have had a hard time explaining a preschooler-sized hole in the wall.




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