Emilie is 12. She has a boyfriend. I am the poster child for neurotic, over protective fathers so this makes me uncomfortable. She has been asking a lot of questions about my past girlfriends, which makes me even more uncomfortable. I try to gloss over this subject like unsavory parts of my past. I imagine if I tried to explain ex-girlfriends to her, they would come across like fictional characters, as if I were making it all up. How could she understand girls I dated, girls like Lois Lane.
I dated Lois Lane before she was with Superman. I liked everything about her, even her name. Lois Lane...how my tongue tapped the uvular ridge at the base of my front teeth to make the "L" sound and how I would drag out "Laneeeee....." until it faded into nothing. I adored her sassy wit. She was self confident and an excellent writer. And she was gorgeous. If all this wasn't intimidating enough, she hung around with the super hero crowd. She didn't talk about them much and said it was platonic (not in so many words) but I felt a little self conscious the entire time we were together. She was sweet and didn't mean to make me feel that way but she would say things like: "Your arms are soft...", and I would pause, and she would correct herself by saying: "Oh no, I mean in a good way, I love the feeling of your warm, soft arms."
I met Superman before I knew Lois. We actually did a race together, I said hi to him at the starting line. He was pleasant but imposing; his deep voice reverberated in my bones, my scrawny little hand was swallowed in his when he shook it, and his eyes seemed to look right into my soul. I came in last place, he won; in fact, he lapped everyone. It was a point to point race. This was an amazing win but afterwards he did something a bit odd, something that maybe only I would dwell on because I see reality different than most, he circled the Earth at the speed of light to reverse it on its axis and go back in time, sat with his buddies, and watched himself win. Not once or twice but 70 or 80 times.
Things between Lois and I went well for a while but often she would talk about Superman, not in a giddy, love struck high school girl way but just matter of factual, like: "I wonder if Superman wares his suit, you know, commando..." I would try to come up with a witty response, one that didn't indicate I was jealous, like: "I suppose since he can travel at the speed of light, he might want something supporting his boys," but this just came across awkward, and left her thinking about his junk. And so it went for a while.
I knew things were falling apart when I saw he was a friend of hers on facebook. I considered the real possibility she had feelings for him. She was truly amazing so I pushed these thoughts aside but I think at that point I stopped investing in our relationship. If I had it to do all over again I would have done things differently but that's silly to dwell on, in life we are seldom afforded do overs. The end came when she casually mentioned Superman was taking her flying. I could imagine them talking about me as they sored across the sky. He would say something clever and belittling, like: "Well, you don't need ex-ray vision to see Neil is a poser, ha ha ha...." and Lois would giggle in agreement. After that we saw each other less and less until one day I came home and saw she had removed everything in my life that might remind me of her. And we didn't talk again until she called me up and announced she was dating Superman. This seemed strange to me since I knew this, and I knew she knew I knew but I figured she needed some closure. I still adored her so if listening gave her the closure she needed, then I would listen, and be polite, and say good bye, and that was it.
Right then I decided to allow myself to be bitter for one year. It is difficult to give things like this a time limit but I find I do better with a certain amount of finality. During that year I imagined what it would be like to be a super-villain and hold Superman at bay. I would monologue like all good super-villains do: "Superman, eh? You don't know what it is like to be human. Everything comes easy to you, you can't feel pain, you have no idea what it is like to have your ass handed to you in Expert...you might be super...but you are not a man," and I would throw in an evil laugh.
I won't tell Emilie about Lois Lane because it makes me seem a little ordinary. My daily victories are things like getting Em to dance and putting money in her 529 college fund, all of which pale in comparison to traveling at the speed of light.
I wonder if Lois ever thinks about me, and maybe accidentally calls Superman by my name, and if he would even notice if she did.