The most super of all the superheroes I’ve liked is the one who isn’t even a superhero, but instead, just your regular noble man, born in the deepest jungles of Africa, then adopted by apes after the same apes killed his parents.
Tarzan learned to speak the apes’ language, he wore a loin cloth made of leopard skin, he had a medallion he had found in his parents’ cabin around his neck, he climbed the trees, and swung from tree to tree with his long hair waving in the wind.
Naturally, I taught myself ape language, wore a medallion around my neck, climbed trees, learned the perfect yell, and wore a loincloth. Mine was made of cotton. It was a special offer for members of the Tarzan comic book club, and Mom was nice enough to get me one by mail order. I wore it around the house, and in the bath tub.
I read a lot of Tarzan comics, and if not all, then at least most of the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan books.
But the most impressive thing about Tarzan to me wasn’t the way he strangled lions, and rode elephants, and hypnotized panthers, but the fact that he never lost his presence of mind. Curiously, while Tarzan knew how to move in the jungle, he often fell off trees, and all kinds of cliffs. But every time he did, he always had time to think during the fall. He always knew which way he was falling, he always knew his surroundings, and he always knew which branch or tiny hole to try to grab a hold of.
Nothing fazed Tarzan.
Every once in a while I go to the gym. Mostly out of habit, I still do the same routine I’ve always done. I go in, work at a few machines, listen to podcasts, check my email, do some sit ups, and hit the shower. Maybe sauna, too, although, most often I don’t seem to have the time for that.
And I never wear a loincloth anymore.
Today, as I was on my way out, feeling good, feeling strong, walking with a light step towards the front door when I picked up my watch from my pocket. For some reason – maybe my finger got stuck in the pocket – the watch flew out of my hand.
Without even looking, I immediately stretched out my left arm, just in time to get my palm under the watch. Unfortunately, it bounced off my hand to another direction. Another two-tenths of a second later I had moved my hand a little to the right, but only to send the watch to yet another direction.
And now time seemed to stand still. I saw everything clearly, including each rotation of the watch as it traveled through the air. I moved my hand a little to the left. The watch hit my hand and I caught it with my left index finger, and slipped it around my wrist, while still walking towards the door.
I looked up, and saw the lady in the reception smile to me, nodding approvingly.
“Nice,” she said.
“Thanks. Just like Tarzan,” I said.
She didn’t say anything. She just smiled.