A man needs a dream, and in my view aspiring to be a super-hero makes me a better person, husband, friend and therapist. Not that I imagine I am a super-hero, just what I would love about being one. To start, there's the equipment. Take Batman: the car, the cave, the tools for urban combat. And the powers. I have a rather loose filing system for records and documents, and Superman's speed and strength would help out when I cannot locate something I need.
Some thoughts about the way of the super-hero for ordinary suburban men, like myself, who share my quest:
Maintaining The Fleet. Like Batman, I’m a guy who places a high value on readiness for any emergency. And I feel like Batman, those rare times my wife is stuck with a dead car on the expressway in driving rain and I know the vehicle is stocked with: cell phone charger, flashlight, extra batteries for the flashlight, battery charger, maps, Windex (with toweling) blankets, a flare and a shovel. If she is packing bottled water and a protein bar I know that she is not only as safe as possible during the time it takes for me to get there, she can nap, surf the internet on her smartphone and enjoy a light snack. The vehicles you drive carry the most important people in your life. The summer months are best for bonding with your vehicle. You want their shining surfaces to be blinding. You want them them to run smooth and sleek on all those trips to Home Depot. On long road trips, especially in heavy traffic, fluids are indispensable. Be good to the fleet and the fleet will not get overheated and throw a hose.
Maintaining The Yard. As a couples therapist on Long Island I can honestly say that lawn care is right up there with child-rearing practices and finances as a source of conflict. One person wants a manicured lawn using the latest lawn technology, the other wants to sleep in on Saturdays. I have long been a lawn pacifist. Never will I raise a rake in anger over care of the grass. Nor will I compete with my neighbors. Its just a patch of green. Still, I have standards. Water, cut, feed, sprinkle seeds. No chemicals.
Presiding Over The Grill. To do the job right, you need tools. These should be large, manly, very clean. If you need a grilling hat make sure it is a good fit. No logos, no obstructions. Aprons are for suckers. Get barbecue sauce on yourself, its character-building. Check your gas. Smooth out the lava rocks, turn on the juice and let the heat rise under the grill cover. Relax and meditate on what a fine contribution you make to happy family life by helping out with the meal. Sit back in a lawn chair until it is time to put on the food. Turn regularly. Move the food around, too so it cooks evenly. Super-hero status increases in direct proportion to the speed with which you scrub the grill after it cools down and the scent of Lemon joy on your hands and shirt.
Checking For Suspicious Noises. Batman goes into dark places with his courage, physical conditioning and a millionaire's arsenal of tools. Being a middle-class psychotherapist, my arsenal consists of a tennis racket, cell phone speed-dialed to 911 and pure determination to get a good night's sleep.
Every day is an opportunity to practice super-hero skills and self-sacrifice. There's always something to contribute. The world needs us. And you get to keep the equipment.
Nicholas Wolff, LCSW, BCD, TEP facilitates a professional training program in experiential/action methods at Lifestage, including a weekly group that meets from September to June that is approved for Continuing Education by the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services.