Is it me, or do birthdays seem to come around too often? I think I've been celebrating my 21st birthday for about 15 years now but like clockwork, every 365 days it is here again.
It's funny how differently people react to their birthdays. Some people tell the world it is their birthday and want cake, presents and other extravagances while others want to ignore the day and hope nobody notices.
I happen to fall in the latter category, although writing a column about it certainly doesn't support my point. Actually for my birthday I prefer to be left to my thoughts, which consist of thinking back to how I ever made it to my 21st birthday... again.
Like most kids, I did some pretty stupid things. Like the time my grandmother made me a red cape, just like Superman, then let me go outside to play unsupervised. In her defense, she didn't know I knew where the ladder was or that I was strong enough to drag it to the back of the house where the roof was low. She probably thought I had enough sense not to climb on the roof and jump off thinking I could fly. Well, she was wrong.
Fortunately for me I could fly, or at least pound gracefully enough into the ground that I didn't even break a bone. I was so graceful that I did it a few more times until my grandmother caught me. As it turns out, she was more amazed that I was able to fly without killing myself and she even agreed not to tell my parents and it has been a secret ever since. Well, until now.
Learning you are the Man of Steel probably isn't the best thing to know as a little boy. Knowing I could fly definitely opened up a lot of possibilities, such as "The Skateboard Affair."
Picture three young boys, around the age of 11 or 12, at the top of a hill with skateboards. This wasn't a small hill either. At one point I think people climbed the hill to practice climbing Mount Everest. But me, being Superman, thought it would be fun for us to ride down the hill on our skateboards.
None of us had enough nerve to ride down the hill on our skateboards standing up, after all, I was Superman, not Stupidman. No, we decided to lay down on our backs and go down the hill. It was pretty awesome until halfway down I realized there was no way to stop the skateboard that was going Mach 1. To make matters worse, there was a busy cross street at the bottom of the hill where cars were known for going Mach 3. There was only two ways to stop. Roll off the board or let yourself crash into the soft grass of the ditch across the street.
My two friends decided to roll off but if I came home scratched up I would have to explain what happened, so I flew across the intersection and slammed into the small ditch. By slammed in, I think I flipped three times before I hit the ground. Had I been wearing pads or a helmet they would have flown off, but who needs pads and helmet when you are Superman? And who needs to worry about the car that had to slam on its brakes to not hit me either? Let's just say my friends and I kept that a secret too... until now. However, I must say it was more fun the second and third time down.
Of course, being Superman required many leaps of faith. There was the jumping out of swings at their highest point, BB gun fights that left welts all over my body that I would have to strategically cover with clothes to avoid questions and going into the deep end at a friend's party after I was warned not to. But we all know telling a child not to do something is basically saying "I know you aren't a good swimmer but there is some really neat stuff in the deep end if you don't drown first."
I didn't drown and by the end of the day I could even go off the diving board. We just didn't tell anyone about me nearly drowning and scaring the adults. But hey, we all know Superman doesn't drown.
Superman also wasn't afraid to poke a water moccasin with a stick to see him bite at something and sure wasn't afraid to pee on an electric fence (just a note -- "OUCH"). As the Man of Steel and being only 8, I also wasn't afraid to pull the top off of a high school girl in our swimming pool with some awesome results... well, until she got her top back on. At that point it got a little dicey for my well being and I had a moment similar to my deep end adventure.
Then there were bottle rocket fights and the phase where I liked to light cardboard "houses" on fire and pretend my GI Joes were firemen. Fortunately my dad was a firefighter and I knew that it was smart to have a water hose nearby, otherwise my house and neighborhood could have been nothing but a pile of ash.
Now, as I turn 21 again, I realize how fortunate I was not to end up dead or even worse, grounded, after my ridiculous stunts (which I just shared a few mind you). So as I blow out my 21 candles on my cake again, I realize that as Superman I don't have to worry about getting old. All I have to do is find my cape and I will once again be invincible.