An Ordinary Dad's Extraordinary Secret Identity

Article excerpt

MY dad was a mild-mannered reporter with a small metropolitan newspaper. His friends knew him as Corky, but to me he was Superman. He stood 6 feet 2 inches tall, was lanky, and had a shy demeanor. His fedora sat slightly tilted on his head; conservative, rounded eyeglasses perched on his nose; and gray and navy blue suits hung in his closet. But what really convinced me was his looking me straight in the eye and saying he was Superman. He swore to it.

I was six years old when my father shared his secret. My brother Joe didn't believe it. Being one year older, he had experienced my father's previous pranks. Joe had waited patiently, but in vain, for the baseball field with two real dugouts to be built in the backyard. Our younger brother, Moe, on the other hand, believed anything.

Joe's skepticism planted the seeds of doubt in my mind. Joe was older and seemingly wiser. More concrete evidence was necessary. We wanted to see the Superman suit.

We pleaded with our father for weeks. Doubt was swallowing my faith. I couldn't bear Joe's teasing anymore. One Saturday, late in the afternoon, I gathered my brothers, and the three of us became one solid moving mass, stampeding through the house in search of our father.

We stumbled upon him in the kitchen, opening a bottle of soda. An empty glass sat on the red marbleized linoleum counter. "We want to see the suit, Superman's suit with the S," we said.

He set down the bottle and motioned for us to follow. We silently streamed out of the kitchen, through the dining room, and followed my father up the seven stairs to the second floor.

Our house was a modern three-bedroom split level with wall-to-wall lilac carpeting. My parents' bedroom was at the end of the hall and was forbidden territory. No one was to enter without knocking. If the room was unoccupied, we were not even permitted a peek.

I loved the feel of my parents' bedroom. The headboard of their double bed was a bookshelf with sliding doors and gold dots you fit your fingers into for opening and closing. Mom and Dad each had their own dresser made of blond wood and stubby, round legs. My father's was tall with five drawers. The top was cluttered with change, cuff links, combs, and paper.

Dad pushed open the bedroom door, then made his way to the closet. …