serendipitous reflections

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Grade school superheroes

When I was in fourth grade, I lived in Kenner, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, and I was bused to Harold Keller Elementary School for the Gifted and Talented program there. I guess you can't call kids "gifted" or "talented" anymore, but you could back in the early 80s. It was kind of like the opposite of Everybody Hates Chris with me being bused to a central New Orleans magnet school. The G&T class pulled me out of some of my other classes, which made things hard for me and Mrs. Washington, who loved to use the expression "tough cookie" because she couldn't say "I don't give a shit." (Oh, I hate to hear "tough cookie" to this day...)

But in the Gifted and Talented class one of our assignments was to create our own superhero. We had Stan Lee's "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way" and we traced the superhero, then designed his outfit and powers and everything. Then to top things off, we had a day that we were supposed to dress like our superhero. (I think they were trying to get us killed, I really do.)

So my superhero was ... wait for it ... Math Man. OK, don't ask me why, because I can't remember. This just flooded back to me the other day. I remember a brown and yellow outfit, possibly because this was the early 80s and I had a brown sweat suit and Mom put yellow felt math symbols in a Superman shape on the chest. I was so thrilled with Math Man back then. Now, I just imaging exclamations that Math Man would make, like, "Something just doesn't add up!" or "Come on, (insert sidekick name here, let's just say Binary Boy, for fun), let's divide and conquer!"

In the end, though, I don't see much of a future for Math Man. I don't know what his super power was, and with the popularity of graphing calculators, and the general unpopularity of math, I just don't think he'd catch on in the hearts of the American public. Still, I bet somewhere in Mom and Dad's basement there's a sheet with Math Man's drawing and a list of his abilities, which probably includes the ability to figure out an appropriate tip after dinner.



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