This is Part 5 of the story of How I Met Superman. To get caught up, you can find the preceding chapters here.
The rest of the fall ambled in and out of the heat of a Southern California autumn. Patrick and Debi and our circle of friends went to football games, went to class, called friends on the telephone, tried to keep up with who was dating whom. …
Now that I’d been introduced to Superman, I felt comfortable saying hi and nodding to him in the hallways, though my heart always began pounding with worry that he’d actually talk to me. I imagined myself stumbling over my words, stumbling over my feelings, stumbling over the sidewalk, something – and sometimes I’d be relieved that he simply nodded back and just kept walking.
Of course, I also had a boyfriend. So I filed away my interest, along with my pounding heart, as if they were curious distractions – things you batted at when they got in your way.
But every day, as I was unwrapping my sandwiches in the quad, I memorized a few new things about Superman. I learned that he was quiet. He did most of the listening in groups, not much talking. I learned that he had a great smile, and he’d flash it suddenly – brilliantly and without warning – as soon as something amused him.
Through my classmates, I learned other things: I learned that he was from a family of five boys. His two older brothers were at the high school with us – the three of them separated by a year apiece. And he had two little brothers, the youngest of whom he rushed home for to babysit on certain days until their mother came home from work. When I heard his next-oldest brother’s name, I was aghast. I did know that brother: Ruben. He was a bit notorious at our school. He used to get in fights, and was known for being a troublemaker, yet he had more girlfriends than anyone could imagine because he was outrageously charming. Superman and Ruben were “Irish twins” – not really twins, but born less than a year apart and having a twin-like quality about them. They were the same height, had the same hair, the same hair cut, the same eyes, the same mouth. Superman had a much wider chest, though. And a much wider smile.
I filed each of these pieces of information away with no thought about what I might need them for. I assumed I wouldn’t need them at all. I simply put the information aside, the way you’d press a daisy in a dictionary – knowing it’s there, but not really planning on needing it or retrieving it any time soon. I went on with my day and focused mostly on not making Patrick mad.
One sunny day in December, though, I’d finally had enough of Patrick’s bad days. I went up to him, took a very deep breath, and told him I wanted to break up.
It didn’t occur to me he’d put up a fight. …
Click here for Part 6: The Un-Breakup. …