I believe in superheroes. I will be the first to admit that I immediately fell in love with Superman. What was there not to love about him? Tall, dark and handsome with x-ray vision and superhuman strength, not to mention the whole flying bit. I sucked it up, cape and blue spandex and all. And the best part was that he wasn’t the only superhero! There seemed to be an endless supply of them: Spiderman, the Green Lantern, not to mention Batman and Robin. I was one of those weird girls who would wake up early on Saturday mornings to catch the latest episode of Superman or Power Rangers. Forget Barbie and Ken. Kicking butt was so much more fun.
It was when I first started noticing the whispers that I stopped believing in Superman. It was the pitying glances, the stares, the finger pointing that drove me nuts. But the worst part was THE QUESTION: “Why does your dad walk like that? What happened?” It made me furious; my father was not broken. With their words, he sounded like half a person, some kind of damaged good on a store shelf. Elementary school was the hardest to endure: the mortifying Parent-teacher conferences, the Bring-Your-Parent Day, the Father-Daughter dance night. My classmates did not ease my suffering. Where was Superman when I had needed him most? I felt cheated and scammed; but most of all, I felt alone.
Embarrassment had shattered my belief in superheroes. It is only now that I am beginning to understand my father; he tells me of his life in Korea in erratic bursts. My father was an infant when he caught both polio and hepatitis B in Korea. He was not supposed to live to see his one-year birthday, but he did. He attended school everyday, despite his tormenting, teasing classmates. My father told me that women used to stop him on the street, crying, “You poor thing! Here, go buy yourself some candy.” And they would drop little wads of money in his hands, patting him on the head like some pet.
After halfway into high school, he moved to America in order to attend college at UCLA. He struggled to maintain good grades, spending days simply trying to translate a passage in a history textbook to Korean. Taking a break from school, he left to manage a family business in Guam, where he met my mother. Never had my father dreamed of having a wife, of starting a family. He is now a successful medical physicist.
During my 8th grade year in middle school, my father had quite a scare; X-rays revealed that he had a tumor in his liver. Fortunately, the tumor was benign; however, as I watched my father struggle through recovery, instead of waning, my belief in superheroes has only revived.
My family is full of Superheroes. I had never known that Superman was a small Asian man with a cane; I had never known that Superwoman was a lady who took care of her comatose sister; I had never known that Wondergirl was a sixteen-year-old girl escaping from North Korea.
I can only say that Superman had never left me alone, and that I believe in Superheroes even more strongly now than ever. Superheroes are everywhere in our lives; you just have to look in the right places.