So You Want to Be a Hero?
As career choices go, Hero involves the usual pluses and minuses of any professional career. On the plus side, consider the action figures, fast food tie-ins, large-breasted girl friends, and flexible hours. The down side revolves around lousy pay, an abnormal social life, selecting and recruiting a sidekick and no 401k. Seriously, consider that without a decent nemesis, you’re just a buff dude in a silly suit. Let’s talk about the training requirements.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, from a fireman pulling a burning kitten out of an endangered house, to generals who found nations, to certifiable Greek divinities to cartoonish slackers. Where you fit into this often depends on your education. While many hero positions don’t have strict educational or training requirements, most suggest at least two years of community college or equivalent. Paramilitary training or handling of radioactive or biological material is a plus. One requirement most hero candidates overlook involves the “passing through” of water or earth. Remember that Luke Skywalker fell into that Imperial Death Star Recycling center, Frodo navigated the dwarvish mines, and even Jesus got baptized in the Jordan river via the proper, big hair Baptist method of total immersion. Taking a shower after a workout or a few cannon balls at a pool party don’t count. It’s got to be symbolic. Smashing a can of Bud Lite on your head at frat party won’t cut it, either.
While formal education and a healthy diet are a sound beginning, the essence of heroism is a total disregard for personal safety for the immediate benefit of someone who may well sue you out of sheer ingratitude. That internal state of mind is really the essential tool to which you apply your native wit and training, along with any cool hardware you can gin up. Most Heroes attempt to lead fairly normal daily lives, often taking up part or full time employment to occupy the odd moments when the pager isn’t going off, and to rent semi-respectable digs. Remember, the Hero is never a dead beat. Batman has a wicked cool set of wheels, and Napoleon had proper oil paintings in a grand palace, but these folks are exceptional. Be prepared for some lean periods. As in the arts, recognition doesn’t come easily or early to most, and a modest disposition will pay in the long run. You don’t see Bernard Goetz giving interviews.
Should you adopt a battle cry or wear unusual underwear? This is a very personal decision, and depends on whether or not you have an actual super power and how comfortable you are with your sexual orientation, whether straight, gay, or tortured, angst-ridden teenager with a problem you hope Mom never discovers. Personally, I prefer comfortable but dressy clothing, the better to slip easily in and out of typical street situations. Jeans, polo shirt, loafers, and a sport coat are appropriate for just about any situation, and dark colors avoid the need for frequent dry cleaning. Clean underwear are a must, just like mom said. Always keep a few small bills in your coat pocket — sometimes heroism involves buying a down and out vet a six pack or two. Most important — the heroes reward is in the heart, not the pocketbook.
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