Why I’ll Never Be a Superhero (and some of life’s other sad truths)

You know those movies where someone ordinary does something extraordinary? And I’m not talking about one of those made-for-TV movies where someone just happens to be at the right place at the right time and performs CPR and saves someone’s life but they could only do it because they had just recertified their CPR two days before. I’m talking about look-at-me-I’m-a-poor-village-lad-but-I-will-save-thousands or I’m-just-a-girl-in-China-but-oh-wait-I-am-also-Mulan-and-now-I-have-saved-everyone-from-the-Huns kind of story.

I have determined that even though I am a pretty tough cookie (and who doesn’t love cookies?) and have been through some things I didn’t think I’d make it through, I also don’t think I’m Tony Stark/Mulan/Everyman-Turned-Fairy-Tale-Hero material.

Allow me to elaborate.


I haven’t actually been diagnosed with any kind of major disorder (this will come as a shock to some, I’m sure), but I have a plethora of just-minor-enough-to-be-annoying-but-not-major-enough-to-be-medicated kind of issues. Basically I am afraid of heights/bugs/deep water/small spaces. This rules out the following heroic actions:

–          Climbing trees

–          Scaling tall buildings

–          Hanging out of a plane

–          Freefalling

–          Sticking my hand into the hole full of bugs to save Indiana Jones’ life in the Temple of Doom

–          Hunting for sunken treasure

–          Being shipwrecked

–          Being buried alive

–          Dragging my daughter’s beloved down a tiny tunnel away from a failed revolt in the sewers of Paris

–          Playing dead and carried out of Chateau D’if only to be dropped into the ocean (what is it with the French?)

–          Digging a tunnel to a different sewer to escape from Shawshank while my actions are narrated by Morgan Freeman

I would also not be great in a high-speed car chase, a burning building, or any type of torture situation. Sometimes I’m at the optometrist and they’re like, “and I’ll just take out your contacts for you and put in some eye drops” and as soon as they reach for my eyelid I’m like, “NO STOP, PLEASE, I’LL TELL YOU ANYTHING!!!

It is quite dramatic and I don’t think these ocular-minded individuals appreciate my sense of humor/respect my legitimate fear of having people mess with my eyeballs.


I am also a slow packer. I could never be a drifter or a wanderer or any kind of legitimate nomad, because I am not nomadic. I am a nester. Everywhere I go, I put up pictures and make the place homey and accumulate books and leave them there.

I wish moving was like:


Sadly, it is not.

It takes me an hour to pack for a weekend trip, because I have to go through a long list of Things Not to Forget and check it twice and inevitably leave something off and then be mad about it later because I forgot to think of it more than once.

Things like: “don’t forget your hair gel or your head will look like a brunette poodle is sitting on it all weekend,” so I remember hair gel but I forget toothpaste. So instead of looking like I have a brunette poodle on my head I just smell like that there is a brunette poodle in my mouth, which is both strange and disgusting. Or, “don’t forget a sweatshirt or you’ll be cold at night,” so I remember a sweatshirt but don’t pack pajama pants so I am scurrying around all naked-legged and shivery with three layers on top, which doesn’t even make sense because I carry way more body fat on my lower half than on my upper.

According to the Employment Relocation Council, moving is the third most stressful life event, after death and divorce. Now some scales rank it differently, but let’s just think about that for a second. Putting all your junk into boxes, hauling it somewhere else, and unpacking all your stuff is a life event topped only by the disintegration of a marriage and the cessation of life. I have chosen to do this without taking off time from work. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.

So basically I spend all day scurrying around the motor pool and am anxious to get home so I can paint/organize/unpack/agonize over my book cataloguing system. I certainly could not move from place to place with ease or uproot my whole life and just set off across Middle Earth to defeat all the evil in Mordor. There is no second breakfast in Mordor.


I used to read a lot of bad historical romance novels with sickly aunts and mothers who frequently had to excuse themselves to go lie down because they had a “memgrin.” I think that is a migraine, and while I used to scoff at these weakling women in my more naïve high school years, I, as a migraine sufferer, now envy them quite a bit. I wish I could send a note on a silver tray to my maintenance tech that says something like this (penned of course in flawless cursive with a feather pen that I dipped in an inkwell):


Chief –

I have taken ill with a memgrin. Do forgive my absence at the maintenance meeting this afternoon, and I shall see you tomorrow morning for PT formation.


Your Lieutenant


Then they would all cluck sympathetically and call me a poor lamb and send flowers and notes of sympathy penned in equally flawless cursive with feather pens that they had first dipped into inkwells.

Of course this makes no sense. But I also tend to get a little delirious when I have a migraine at work and I’m sitting in a meeting with my skull trying to contract into a tiny ball of quivering agony and there are spots all over my vision and my neck hurts and I strongly suspect I might throw up and everyone is all, “hey LT, you feeling okay? Why isn’t this part on order?” and I’m like, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY IS EVERYONE YELLING.” Except not really, and I have yet to hear any Soldiers in the United States Army do any clucking or call anyone a poor lamb, so it is probably just a twisted coping mechanism brought on by the fact that the neurons in my brain apparently do not function normally.


I am kind of pathetic when it comes to relatively minor crises that adults face every day in the world. It’s not even something life-threatening, like we had a bad harvest this year and now my family and I are probably going to starve this winter. It’s First World Problems. Stuff like a flat tire.

The problem is that, in my mind, it’s not just a flat tire. IT IS THE END OF LIFE AS I HAVE KNOWN IT.

For instance.

Last month I had a blowout. I was leaving PT, heading home to shower, and all of a sudden I lost control of the car and was swerving all over the road and there was this horrible noise and I didn’t know what had happened and I was scared out of my mind and I pulled over and sat on the side of the road for a minute with both hands over my heart, breathing unnaturally hard and saying out loud, “okay. I’m okay. Okay. I’m okay. Okay. It’s okay. I’m okay.”

As soon as I started driving again, there was a new, different, horrible noise, and I realized that my tire was totally destroyed. Once it was safe to pull over and look at the tire, I got out of the car and the wind picked up and it started raining and as soon as I got a good look at how flat it was and saw the horrible slashes and torn places in the tire, I literally burst out crying. I’m not really prone to fits of hysteria but for whatever reason that blowout had me thinking all kinds of overly dramatic thoughts like, OH MY GOD I WAS ALMOST IN A HEAD-ON COLLISION AND NOW MY TIRE IS RUINED AND I COULD HAVE DIED AND I DIDN’T EVEN FINISH MY NOVEL OR MAKE A CHILD OR SEE THE TAJ MAHAL AND NOW IT’S RAAAAAIIIINIIIIIING.

But then I put on my Big Girl Pants and got the jack out of the back of my car and lay on the ground in the rain and jacked up the car. Then I called my dad crying because I didn’t know if I had put the jack in the right place and I didn’t want to die because my car fell on me. Having been assured that it was all right, I got off the phone and went to take the lug nuts off my tire. Now I am not a little person—not a waif by any means. But no matter how I strained and tugged and swore and torqued (not to be confused with twerked, which I did not do that morning), I could not remove the tire from my car. So I threw some of the tools on the ground and started crying again. Then I panicked that I might have messed up the only tools I had and fetched them and wiped them off on my filthy PTs and continued to cry. Then I called roadside assistance. You know. Like a normal person would have done in the first place.

That afternoon when I went to buy a new tire and found out how much tires cost, I just about choked. Once it was all over I got in my car with my new tires and sat there and cried some more. There should be emotional plumbers or something, because I am pretty sure that my tear ducts were broken that day.

Essentially what I am trying to convey to you is that I cannot save a plane full of screaming people as it goes spiraling into the ocean because I can barely handle my tire exploding and trying to change it in the rain. It makes me weep in a very angry, infantile, and unattractive manner.

(Also later it hailed that day while I was walking into the motor pool and it was basically the worst thing ever, but that’s not really the point. I’m just making sure you know it was a really bad day.)


I can work in Windows and operate Word and Excel and Power Point without any major issues, and I spend an inordinate amount of time pinning things on Pinterest and stalking people I love and people I hate and people somewhere in between on Facebook, but I am really not computer literate.

For instance, all that fancy computer stuff that Q does in the Bond movies? Or the ridiculous things Tony Stark creates as Iron Man? Or even just the wings that Leonardo DaVinci makes for Drew Barrymore in Ever After so she can walk into the ball like a boss and steal the French-prince-with-an-English-accent’s heart like a boss. Circuits and plugs and wires and networks and designing things all escape me.

Last week my Manfriend came to visit and he set up my big TV so it is connected to my laptop and I can run it off a wireless mouse and keyboard. He goes, “Oh yeah, that’s easy. We just need to get you an HDMI cable.” Then we went back to the apartment and he plugged it all in and all of a sudden I could stalk people on Facebook at 60” of high-def from the couch across the room.


So sure, I can type fast, but I’ll be damned if it’s useful for anything other than telling you my woes and publishing them to this blog. If anyone with knowledge superior to Norton Antivirus or McAfee or any other anti-virus software I might have installed at any juncture in my life decided to hack my computer, they would hack my computer. End of story, sayonara and adios computadora. Or maybe I should say zaijian, because word on the street is that the Chinese are going to hack all of our computers someday, and somehow I think being able to say, “hello, my name is Tang Kai Li” (that’s my super awesome Chinese name my adorable Chinese teacher gave me when I took Chinese at West Point) in Chinese is going to save my computer from its inevitable demise.

It is a sad fact that none of my life skills would be particularly useful in an action movie. Anyone who saw my award-winning performance in the 100th Night Show last year knows that I do not have stage fright. But let’s be honest: when was the last time someone saved the world because she enjoyed wearing a face mic?

If you are trapped in a fire, I recommend that you call the Fire Department and not me. If you are drowning in a deep, scary ocean I suggest either some SEALS or some enchanted dolphins or the Genie from Aladdin. If you are clinging to a cliff over some roaring rapids, you might hope that someone very strong is nearby to pull you over the edge and away from certain doom. As for me, I will either be humming to myself and wishing for a face mic and a spotlight, or standing in the rain in dirty PTs, still trying to remove the lug nuts from my busted tire.



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4 responses to “Why I’ll Never Be a Superhero (and some of life’s other sad truths)

  1. Manfriend

    For the record, I love cookies. Also, I am pretty sure that Aaron Carter’s love of face mics allowed him to beat Shaq. I mean, that is kinda like saving the world to some people.

  2. Howard

    Also for the record, I am a certified emotional plumber, although I’m in an awkward spot when it comes to the yellow pages.

  3. Rob

    once upon a time at a place called camp buckner I had to wait in a long line for people to ride down a zipline. You were the person in front of me. we had some quality time together up there whil we waited 45 minutes for your phobias to calm down just enough to risk your life for a grade, lol.

    • WHAAAAAAT. I remember waiting a really long time on the ground but not as long once at the top. I cannot confidently quantify how long I dallied at the top of the platform because I had zero confidence in my ability to hang on long enough to drop into the lake at the right time. But at least BG Linnington didn’t have to tell me to get off the platform or else, which DID happen to one of our classmates.

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