I found myself in Singapore airport not so long ago, daydreaming about heroes and superpowers while waiting on a transfer, when the following story unfolded.
This is because I’m forever plotting ways in which a routine fan-meets-famous-person scenario somehow flips to them sensing my genius, inviting me round for tea and showing me All The Secret Things. And, while I know this is delusional, my inner dangerous maniac gets all contrary and pissed off and, in the imagined scene, I wind up shooting them with my grandma’s cap gun and making cryptic hypnotic threats before magically disappearing. Boom.
Back in reality, I concluded it would be best if I didn’t get slapped with a restraining order by my hero. I sighed. I realised in that moment I’d been spending a lot of time fantasising about various heroes – living and dead; real and fictional; mostly male – solving my problems and validating my increasingly weird and wonderful aspirations. I was the definition of delusional. What if my hero saw me for just that? Or – maybe worse – what if he never saw me at all?
Just then, I noticed a little boy – he was maybe seven or eight years old – standing in the departures lounge… wearing a Batman costume. He was with a big family; all Irish, boisterous, tired because of the hour. But he was so still; he just stood there, arms folded, a dark and broody expression on his face. He was Batman, basically.
Then there was a commotion from among a group of people… and up rushed – SUPERMAN! Another little boy – blond, British, also seven or eight, smiley and bouncy – was kitted out in a Superman costume. Now, ‘Batman vs Superman’ had recently hit the cinemas, so this happenstance was not completely surprising – but it was kind of, well, super.
“BATMAN! BATMAN! IT’S ME! SUPERMAN!”
Superman was losing his shit, bounding round Batman, jumping, yelling.
Batman didn’t even blink.
“IT’S ME! SUPERMAN! BATMAN? BATMAN..?”
Batman remained stone still. Arms folded. Poker faced.
Superman trundled back to his mum. Observed his friend/foe from afar while slurping on an orange squash. Then he made a final attempt.
“Batman..? I’m… It’s me? I’m Superman…”
It’s funny how, sometimes, we just can’t see each other for what we are. I suppose, in that moment, I made myself okay with that. After all, invisibility is a superpower, too.
Btw, I can’t claim to be an expert in hypnotic stories, but I found the Batman-Superman bit to be pretty effective. I told it to the secret hypnotist at my workplace to let him know I was onto him. The meaning is ambiguous, so if you tell it to a high-status person they can draw what they subconsciously or consciously will from it – ‘I am your equal’ being the most powerful suggestion. I deliver it as a throwaway anecdote, but with a mad glint in my eye directed at my victims superiors during the “BATMAN! IT’S ME! SUPERMAN!” line. Mwahaha!