I wrote and performed this piece for the third of Scott Whitehair’s Liars Contests. The second was notable because I met DMJ that night. Given the nature of my take on the theme of Second Chances it seemed apropos.
I believe in second chances.
The second time around, I became completely engrossed by comic books. Superman. The Incredible Hulk. The X-Men. People with super powers. I understood Batman but he was just a wealthy sociopath so I really didn’t feel that sense of connection.
Spiderman? Spiderman was my jam. Given powers he didn’t ask for and a simple agenda: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. I learned a bunch of stuff from reading Spiderman. To experiment with my powers in private. To figure out ways to use science to enhance them. And to keep a secret identity.
Like Peter Parker, I quickly figured out that not only could I levitate above my bathtub (a fact that drove my mom crazy because she simply could get me to bathe without just spraying me with a hose) but that, if I concentrated, I could almost fly. “Almost” because levitation doesn’t include propulsion. At least not in my case. I "never needed an elevator but I still needed a cab" kind of thing.
What I learned from the X-Men was that powers could be the kind of burden that turned everyone else against you. I should've already known that. That people love the idea of a person with super powers but would react with fear and hatred if someone actually had them. So when I discovered my advanced healing ability - like Wolverine but with the power to sort of transfer it to other people as well - I only used it on mom when she had a cold and that one time when she found a lump in her breast. She got a little freaked out when I spent all day trying to fix my dog Lazy after he got hit by a car when I was twelve. I fixed him but it was more like “Pet Semetary" and he was super weird after that. I didn’t do that again.
The food thing was cool but kind of useless except for when mom couldn’t afford to go to the grocery store. We both thought I was making food appear like a Star Trek replicator but what was really happening was that I was telekinetically transporting food from other places to our house. That felt like stealing so I quit that, too.
After college, I decided to experiment with being a super hero. I wore a ski mask and roamed around our tiny town looking for wrongs to right but I wasn’t strong like Superman and my powers weren’t really very good at stopping thieves or violent crimes. I remember the night I decided to hang that idea up. I caught three guys breaking into a liquor store and I challenged them. As soon as they turned on me, I realized I wasn’t really equipped to deal with these guys. They ended beating the crap out of me - one guy hit me with an electrical cord, like, forty times. So I ended up ditching the mask and just decided to become a teacher. I’d moonlight as a bartender because serving booze and talking to people seemed to be a good fit.
On my 33rd birthday, after hiding among the people and jobs, I realized that I wasn’t a mutant or a super hero. I wasn’t a part of a team. There was no one else on the entire planet with powers and life wasn’t a comic book. So I embraced my secret identity - Don Hall, average big-mouth white guy - and did my best to pretend I was normal. Just like everybody else.
As I approached fifty, I realized that middle-age isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. The live hard, die young thing had worked for James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Jimi Hendrix so they never had to deal with dry feet, ear hair or having to pee every seven minutes. I also started remembering things. Things from a different time. It was all triggered by Rankin and Bass one Christmas.
I figured out what I was. At first, I thought I was Santa Claus but the powers didn't fit. And I don't look good in red. I wasn't Santa Claus.
I was your second chance.
This time, though, I had you to teach me. You took my words and completely fucked them up. I NEVER said ANYTHING about gays. Not once. I was seriously anti-capitalist and you started a fucking system based entirely upon it as a bedrock philosophy. I never slutshamed - remember the “He who is without sin” thing? For fuck’s sake, it couldn’t be simpler!
I have lived among you for fifty years now in secret. I can tell you people because - well, this is a liar’s contest and who’s gonna believe you anyway? I have lived among you and watched how you ignore the basic human kindnesses and twist faith into intolerance. For monetary gain and convenience, you’ve slowly taken the most unique creation in the universe and treated it the way an aging smoker treats his lungs. More food than you can eat and millions starving in famine. It’s too bad my pops promised not to raze the place again because it’s all ending and cutting your head off with a cleaver is faster and less painful that cutting it off with a butter knife.
I believe in second chances. But not this time.