Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Own Personal Superhero

Dear Dad,

You probably don't know this, but when I was little, I thought you were magic.

Ok. It's not terribly surprising. I had, as you know, what might be termed an "overactive" imagination. I was sure there was something that lived behind the woodpile in the basement that would jump out and grab my ankles if I had to go down the stairs in the dark. I thought that Lucille Ball was actually Grandma Diane, and that everyone else had just forgotten to mention that to me. And I knew, just knew that you had magical powers.

I suppose lots of kids think their parents are in some way, magical (mom could definitely see through the back of her head, for instance) but this was different. This went beyond the preschool belief that the coin dad pulled out from behind my ear really came from my ear.  This was not blind belief that my father could solve any problem. You could, of course. But there was more. Because you, dad were not far off from Superman.

Not only could you do amazing things like ride you bike with no hands and fix broken toys and find my missing, precious, blanket when it went missing. There were several indicators at your work that you were, in fact, a superhero.

For example, the fat, waxy pencils that magically sharpened themselves when you pulled on the string that protruded off the side, causing layers of....something that was not wood...fall away to reveal bright red or deep black lead. Or there were the machines that turned a full sized, pasted up version of the newspaper into a tiny metal version of the newspaper which were then turned, somehow, into the newspaper. You could type on a typewriter with a cat balanced on your shoulders. I had seen the photo! And the line tape, although not really magical, was really cool. I'm not sure if you ever noticed, but I plastered the underside of your desk with it every time I spent visited you at the paper.

And then there was the magic portal. A tiny round room into which people (sometimes you!) walked, sliding the door shut behind them and then they were gone! It was better than a magician's trick to see you evaporate into the darkroom, especially before I knew it was just a light block to keep the photos from being exposed during processing. Although even after I realized what was beyond the magic door, I still thought you had superhero like powers. After all. YOU COULD TURN A PIECE OF WHITE PAPER INTO A PHOTOGRAPH DAD! No matter how hard I tried, I could never replicate the spell in the sink of my toy kitchen. (That is how, you might recall, I almost torched the house, trying to recreate the powers of the darkroom by draping Strawberry Shortcake's red dress over the bare bulb in my closet. The red light, after all, might have been the missing ingredient to make the spell work.)

There came a point, inevitably, when I realized that these mysterious and wondrous things were standard newspaper procedures. That the door revolved, developers and negatives were responsible for photographs and those awesome peel-away marking pencils were, well they were still pretty awesome, but not magic.

It didn't change the fact, however, that you still had superhero-like qualities. That you still DO have superhero qualities. I mean, you should listen to your grandson tell other people about the GIGANTIC fish his poppa can catch or how you once rode in a car with that guy who made chili and fast engines and he drove so fast that your face nearly peeled off (except it didn't, because, duh, even Carroll Shelby couldn't peel the face off a superhero. By the way, did you tell him that story? Because he tells it to EVERYONE).

So Happy Father's Day, Super-Dad (aka Super-Poppa) Not everyone get's to have a superhero for a dad. We all love you so much, me most of all.



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