5.12 / December 2010


listen to this story

Superheroes are not Indian.   They don’t drown in seven yards of fabric or keep their privates cool with man skirts.   Their muscles are predestined, like neglect in a nursing home, so they don’t go to the gym.   They don’t have to distress over MRSA, nor do they need to obsessively wipe the bench press bars with disinfectant and hide the tattoo on their thigh that says, “Saroja cared here.”

Superheroes are graceful.   They fly around in the shapes that babies learn when they are two.   Their thoughts are like Ven diagrams, their meaning lost on most people, and they like to do back flips in clouds that look like real breasts.

Superheroes are foreign, but from a place that is crystal and clean and soft.   Not from a place that is impoverished and corrupt, where the gap between the rich and the poor is so large that there isn’t even a unit of measurement to describe its enormity.

Superheroes don’t ever eat.   Every Friday, they don’t go to Mr. Wu’s and make a reservation, even if they don’t have to, but do anyway to feel important.

Superheroes always get the girl.   They don’t need to go to those places where they can grab a free feel if they want to before they are charged full price.

Superheroes don’t cry.   Not even when they get fired from a job (which they never are), or are told they don’t qualify for welfare because they are not from here, and if they don’t like it, why don’t they go back to where they came from?

Superheroes have a good vocabulary.   They use words like perspicuous, and lugubrious, and despondent.

Superheroes have perfect teeth and perfect hair and heads shaped like they were passed through watermelons.   They don’t have skin that looks like cheesecloth with milk curds still stuck in the holes.

Superheroes have a remarkable sense of morality.   Vodka or gin?   Gin.   Arm or leg?   Arm.   Having a child you won’t love or adopting a child who isn’t loved?   Living a convivial, short life or a destructive, long one?

Superheroes don’t need to get drunk on Saturday nights in order to forget what happened before, nor do they have to pray to a God that doesn’t listen.  They don’t need to ask for forgiveness.

Superheroes don’t die.  They aren’t buried in oblong boxes that look like they’re made for violins or cakes for tall, thin people.   They aren’t preoccupied with not being missed or despair that their children hate them and that their wives only pretended to be tired when they asked, but really rejected them because of all of the times that they didn’t ask.

Superheroes aren’t concerned with the afterlife or with convincing themselves that there is a heaven.   They know that there is no heaven.   There is nothing.   But they don’t care anyway because they won’t ever die, and they aren’t bad people.