Heather O'Neill: Superheroes I have known

Part of writing from real life is recognizing that the people around you are as extraordinary as those in the fictional realm. Here, for example, are some superheroes who lived in my neighborhood when I was growing up.

There was Gary Rogers a.k.a. Mr. Invisible. He was able to steal anything from the corner store, from chocolate bars and soda pop to nudie magazines. He stole copies of upcoming exams from the teacher's lounge. There were holes in the pockets of his corduroy pants so deep that he could fit a person or a school bus in there. I thought maybe he could fit all the pain and sorrow of the world in his pocket and rescue us all. There was Lucy Hay, a.k.a. Little Miss Truth or Dare, who could stand on the handle bars of her bicycle. She started her own kissing booth in the front of her house. With the profits she bought herself a pack of Menthol cigarettes and told us that she didn't care what the medical world said, she was never going to die.

Who could forget Ada Thompson a.k.a. The Spider Bite. She had pillboxes with spiders and beetles inside. In her bedroom she kept pickle jars filled with caterpillars in the midst of miraculous and smelly transformations. One jar was said to contain a giant slug named Erik. Ada stepped on wasps with her bare feet because she said the stinging made her feel alive. She was slowly filling up with poison. No one ever messed with her because she could put anybody in their place with a few venomous words.

Two houses down from me was Frederick Tremblay a.k.a. Mr. Digestion Man. He was able to eat five Big Macs after swimming practice. He ordered a family-sized box of popcorn at the movies. He could barely get his arms around it. Who knew where he would go in this world with an appetite like that.

I went to school with Michelle White a.k.a. The Liar. She claimed that her eye had fallen out one morning and rolled down the drain and that her dad had to unscrew the pipes to find it. She had been bitten by an alligator in a Florida and had won a million dollar settlement. Keanu Reeves was her second cousin. She could invent whole worlds at the drop of a hat.

There was the mysterious Jane Vollmann a.k.a. The Voice. She wore enormous glasses and liked to sit by herself reading books that were way below her grade level. She was able to sing better than Diana Ross. Even the old men who would yell and shoo us away like pigeons would stop and smile when they heard her sing.

Across the street from me was Tommy Hershon a.k.a. The Collector. He had collections of everything. He had a shoebox of matchbox cars and his windowsill was covered in rocks shaped like hearts and seashells from Florida. He must have been able to travel at the speed of light to acquire all these things. He was rather sinister. He probably had a Kleenex box filled with all our lost keys, old love letters and photographs. I just hope he used them for good and not evil!

Comments are closed.