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June, 2013

Wonder Boy*

by Larry

My alien nature should have been obvious to anyone paying attention. My heart was too big for a body on this world. Also I tended to wheeze instead of breathing in this orb's air, as though perhaps my lungs were more accustomed to a semi-liquid atmosphere. My feet were more those of a marine mammal too, stuck out to the side like flippers. During my first few months, it took the doctors many weeks of procedures to get them directed down toward the ground like earthly boys' lower appendages. Their efforts had to be repeated when I was age four, and for awhile then I was required to wear casts the whole length of my legs.

Like Superman, I was a "precocious" child, often doing things my earthly parents did not fully comprehend. For instance, when still a toddler, I ran into the house, my little legs - no doubt just like Superman's as a lad - whirling by too fast to see. Since I did not yet realize that ordinary mass objects ought to be of any concern to me, I took the corner into the kitchen in a blur, still traveling faster than a speeding bullet, and collided with a metal highchair, cutting my lower lip. Undaunted (and a really slow learner), the following day I did exactly the same thing, this time cutting the recent wound in my lower lip all the way through into my mouth.

Not too long following that incident, my mom warned be not to put my hand onto the hot top of the stove. Of course, I had to check that advice out. Ouch. Darn it! My super powers were taking an unexpectedly long time to kick in. Similarly, though most kids might have generalized from the stove incident, when Mom advised me not to touch the bottom of a hot iron, I placed my full palm up against it, in case she might not have known what she was talking about.

Later my timing was not the best when I put my thumb into a car door well, to check out the button that turns the overhead light on or off, just as Julia, my mom, was closing the door. Oddly enough, the door was able to close completely with my thumb still in there.

More than once I tested whether or not I could fly by cart wheeling off the top of basement stairs. Once I was saved from a worse fate by the hardness of my head, which stopped my fall by colliding with an iron support beam. Another time, Leon, my dad, who must have had a bit of Superman in him as well, saved me by leaping over saw horses to grab my arm and pull me up a few inches just as that hard head was about to be tested on the concrete below.

Shortly after learning to swim and conveniently finding myself at a Gulf of Mexico beach, I took the opportunity while Mom was getting a nice tan to paddle and kick with my tiny ring of inflatable plastic out beyond the breakers. Just as I had planned, one of the big waves dislodged my "lifesaver," and I seemed too tired to get back in under my own power. A kind Samaritan "rescued me" that day, obviously not realizing that, as a young Superman, I was merely waiting for the right moment to hurtle off over the salty waves and realize my true abilities, before Julia would have been the wiser.

Once I agreed to hold up the target when a boy was practicing with his brand new BB gun. Oddly enough, he missed and hit me instead. Go figure. Of course, being super, this hardly hurt me at all. I held up his target again.

My super ability to hear things that others could not got me into trouble more than once. My folks liked to give me plenty of privacy by establishing me in modular-furniture-like "rooms" in the attic or basement, not realizing that with my special ears I could perceive the sighs and screams of ghosts or ghouls that would not have fazed more earthly youngsters.

Though a child of this planet might have known better, I would go off by myself on nature hikes in snake country, often observing or even catching neat and venomous specimens. My mom was happily oblivious, which suited my purposes.

When I was not yet two, still in diapers, I decided to see the world and so set off down the middle of a major highway that started at the end of our block. The diapers fell off at some point, but I was on my way and enjoying the exciting activity as surprised motorists veered this way and that around me. Mom eventually found me, so that escapade had to be terminated too soon.

However, I figured the only problem had been my means of egress. Recognizing that I was actually from a more watery world and built accordingly, the next time I tried to get away it was via a liquid route. When, about 1946, my mom and I had gone to live in San Antonio near Dad's relatives (while he was away in post-World War II Japan), one of the many central TX flash floods turned the street out in front of our house into a river.

My mom was talking animatedly with one of her neighbors about the freak storm and its aftermath when for some reason she thought to glance over in my direction, out near the curb she thought, and was taken aback to note I was nowhere in sight. In fact, as the fish-like creature I really was, I was allowing the strong current to sweep my baby bod rapidly away, hoping this time to get to the coast and access its vast ocean!

Alas, she grabbed me up out of the tempest before I had even gotten a block distant. Earthly parents! They have their limitations.

(*Inspired by the recent release of the latest Superman movie, "Man of Steel.")

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