When I was a young girl I wanted to be Wonder Woman.
I made a cape out of an old sheet, donned a pair of boots four times my size and would run as fast as I could from the living room, down the hallway and back again just to make my cape flutter. I hopped from chairs with my arms extended as far as they could reach, in the hope a little magic would happen and I would suddenly begin to fly.
No one would keep me from saving those who became victim to some two-bit low-life piece of hooey. I was the ultimate crime fighter inside my little mind.
Even though I could not save myself, I would most certainly save others.
As I grew, my superpowers began to develop. My auditory abilities became so acute, I could hear my father’s GMC pickup as it approached from a half-mile away. The first squeak of his brakes was like Kryptonite to Superman and I knew I had to get away.
With the strength of The Hulk, I would throw my dresser in front of my bedroom door, push the screen from my window and bolt across the backyard. I learned how to leap a tall fence in a single bound and run down the street at warp speed. Up to my neighbors rooftop I would clamber with the agility of Spider-Man in my quest to hide from my arch nemesis who would then search for me in one of his drunken stupor’s.
I could perch on that rooftop for hours just like Cat Woman and hold my breath to avoid detection far longer than Aquaman.
Around my friends, I learned to become the Invisible Woman. The “real” me, the terrified one who lived a highly dysfunctional childhood, hid brilliantly behind an invisibility cloak quite like Harry Potter’s. I would peer out unseen through the eyes of Wonder Woman, the model for all that was female and strong.
I took my share of bullets in my quest to defend the helpless. When I caught my brother shooting at blackbirds in the yard with a friend, I ran out to scold him and was in turn chased down the hallway by this duo of male bravado, followed closely by a barrage of BB’s directed at my butt. Against my plate of armor they did bounce and I was able to outrun them when I summoned The Flash.
My Senior year of high school I worked in a small grocery store. Alone at the register one day, a drunk man from the local Reservation, came to the counter with a bunch of change and a bottle of rot-gut wine. I helped him count it out and told him he was a dollar short. He stumbled around the counter, reached into his pants and drew out a pocket knife. As he set the tip of the knife against my belly, he looked at the cash register and asked me if I wanted to buy it for him. At that moment I summoned the telepathic powers of Saturn Girl and caught the eye of the young butcher behind the meat counter. He jumped over the glass counter with a single bound and tackled the man from behind like a replay of the scene when Robin summoned Batman after he was hog tied by that evil Joker.
That was the day I learned the exponential power of super duo’s in the quest to stamp out crime.
While away at college, my roommate and I would often walk a few blocks to the 7-Eleven on hot summer nights. One evening we were followed by two men in a pickup truck. Like any good superhero, my senses went into overdrive. I tapped into all the superpowers I could muster and poised myself with the stance of Superman in between my friend Shelly and the pickup as it blocked our path into the adjacent driveway. The men asked for directions. Sensing trouble, I told them to go ask someone inside the store.
Like a scene straight out of a Marvel comic, a car suddenly blared its horn at the pickup blocking the driveway. The driver of the truck revved the engine, the passenger opened his door, pulled a .38 caliber and pointed it back at the horn blower. I told Shelly to run and she went screaming towards the 7-Eleven and passed right in front of the aimed pistol. The driver of the pickup became nervous, shouted at the passenger with the gun and there I stood with hands on hips and a stern look on my face as he swung the gun around and pointed it at my chest.
I learned as a child to numb my emotions and escape my outer shell whenever faced with danger. As I stood there with a look that dared, my inner-child was comforted by scenes of bullets bouncing off of Superman’s chest. No matter what happened in that moment I would be okay. I had come to the defense of those who were in danger and would stand my ground regardless of the circumstance.
Fortunately for me, the two men became unnerved by the ruckus of car horns that began to blare in unison and they sped away with a long screech and acrid smell of rubber on asphalt.
The moment I removed my cape, I cried.
As an adult I look back on all those harrowing moments as chapters in my training and an integral part of the building of my character. The circumstances of life have embedded within me a strong sense of justice. I feel bound to defend the weak from being brutalized by those who are stronger, nastier, and driven by self-absorbed, evil intention.
I have become the ultimate superhero, Defender of the Underdog.