I stumbled across my powers in the most uncomfortable of ways. Merely thinking of it makes me red with discomfort. It’s not something I am proud of, but considering the circumstances, I suppose it was the breakthrough I needed to discover my ability.
I wasn’t hit by lightning, there were no freak accidents and I most certainly didn’t land here from outer space in some pod. If I did, no one has told me yet and judging by my lack of abilities besides this one bodily function, I am wont to think that I am most definitely human. I wasn’t strapped up in some lab, product of some government weapons program … I most certainly am not the offspring of super powered individuals, my parents are the most normal people you’d ever meet. In fact I am not sure what’s more boring, watching paint dry or my folks going about their daily activities. In other words, I am the last person you’d expect to have any type of power(s).
But I digress, high school was tough I’ll be honest. I was slightly chubby and this posed its own set of problems. I also happened to be very clumsy, compounding on my problems and pretty much relegating me into the outer circles of the social hierarchy in my school. Yes, just like the movies, I rolled with the dweebs and the nerds. The ‘unacceptables’ we called ourselves. Not that we disliked it, those guys were pretty dependable for the most part. I don’t think I could have asked for better friends.
The real issue was when my hormones just like any other kid at that stage in life, started to kick in, and suddenly the female species looked a whole lot more appealing. Just like every kid my age, we spent a lot of time thinking about them, talking about them and coming up with plans on how to woo them. There was this one particular girl in class that every boy fantasized about or at least I thought they did. Angela Atkins was her name though I have tried unsuccessfully to forget about her.
She had the sweetest dimples I have ever seen on anyone. She wore her hair in a ponytail and always had a bevy of people surrounding her outside of class. She was the belle of what I considered my social sphere back then. Everyone knew of her, and I am guessing most of the guys in my class fantasized about her like I did.
She was that mountain I had no idea how to scale. She was the object of my desire, as radiant as the sun yet just as far. If she would just acknowledge me, my life would be okay or so I thought.
You would think when given the chance to talk to her, that I’d make the best of it and to some extent I did, this act of mine would finally lead to the discovery of what would grow into my super powers. Sadly, what lead to this would scar me mentally for the rest of my life. It would be the single most embarrassing moment of my existence, and whilst I have had so many of those, this one though, definitely takes the cake.
We were out on the playground that fateful day. My crew and I as usual were in our section of the yard. The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much we sucked back then. We were the wimps. The outcasts. The kids who gathered around and compared dungeons and dragons cards, who argued about who was the better game character, Sonic or Mario? To us, we found nothing wrong with it, and to my fellow nerds out there, I feel your pain. But let me be the first to admit, that path we took back then, was one full of marginalization. We were ostracized for our interests, bandied into a box that till now I am still struggling to break out from. But I digress, back to me and my fellow nerds chilling by the bushes, watching all the pretty girls in class talk to themselves, wondering why they paid us no mind.
I don’t know who came up with the idea first, I won’t take credit for such foolishness, but I suppose you should know when a bunch of 10 year boys get together, and girls are in the vicinity, particularly those of the same age, chances are the topic of conversation will eventually stray to members of the fairer sex.
I know we had to be talking about who was the hottest girl in class. A few names must have been tossed out but the consensus would have to be Angela. One thing led to another and I am guessing we started preening and prawning about who was best suited for her.
It really doesn’t take much to get guys to take up a bet. There’s a reason why casinos are such money traps. Something about the human psyche and gambling seems to go hand in hand.
I was dared because I happened to be the de-facto leader of the group. Something along the lines of not having the guts to go talk to Angela, a bet which would garner me a month long supply of the Spiderman comics. Ask yourself this, would you pass on such an opportunity?
In my young mind, it was a simple task. Approach the girl of my dreams, mutter a few words and high tail it out of there. What could go wrong?
Unfortunately for me, I underestimated how much my nerves would play a part in this and was about to get introduced to a very odd ability that would define my life in later years. But I digress, back to the topic at hand.
There she was, chatting with her friends, looking as radiant as can be. An image of such beauty and grace. I on the other hand was all nerves. Sure I had agreed to take up the bet but it didn’t mean I wasn’t worried about the action. I was walking into enemy territory, to talk to the queen in the midst of her minions. By no means would they be happy that I broke up their conversation. I had no clue what I was going to say but fortunately for me, fortune was about to direct her smile my way, though when I think about what followed afterwards it was more like a malicious grin.
Her friends must have been distracted by something, because all of a sudden they all flocked to the other side of the playground, chattering excitedly, leaving Angela behind. Here was the opening I needed. She was all alone, all I had to do was approach her. I tried moving forward but my feet were frozen to the spot. My brain had gone blank, I couldn’t think of what to say. I could hear my friends ribbing mercilessly, but it just came off as incoherent sounds as I tried to make sense of what was at hand. Finally someone grabbed my arm, shaking me a few times. That seemed to have done it, as my senses came alive and I could suddenly comprehend what was going on around me.
"I’ll do it" I said bravely. Followed of course by cheers from my crew.
I don’t know what had gotten into me, but before I knew it, I had planted one foot forward, followed by another. All of a sudden I knew what it felt like to scale the rugged terrain of Everest. To see the peak above you, and despite all the odds of making it, you reach into your inner reserves for strength you never thought you had, and will yourself to the finish line.
That was pretty much how I got to stand in front of Angela. She was actually looking down at something in the sand. I suppose my shadow falling across her line of sight alerted her to my presence. I waffled for a few moments, trying to pick the right phrase to get things going…everything that came to mind would have earned me a slap on the spot. I was already way too far into enemy lines to retreat. This was turning out to be a disaster.
And then she looked up ….
It was almost as if the world stopped spinning for that moment or two. Neurons stopped firing and my thoughts went haywire. Alert! Alert! Alert! This wasn’t in the plan. I hadn’t taken into account just how gorgeous she was up close. If my heart beat any faster it probably would form the rhythm for a dance track.
All the carefully crafted words I had rehearsed in my mind had evaporated into nothingness, stranding me on an island with the prettiest girl in our grade with no resources whatsoever to help me out of my current conundrum.
"Hi Derek" she said. But she might as well have been speaking in a foreign language. I mean yes she was looking at me, smiling without a care in the world completely oblivious to the fact that the doofus in front of her hadn’t expected such a warm response, totally catching me off guard.
I stood there staring at her unsure of what to say, whilst she looked up at me, still smiling. After a few moments, I mumbled something about the nice weather we had that day. Of which she remarked casually that the weather man had said it would be pleasant all week.
Weather man…did she just tell me that? She watched the weather man. Who was this girl and what planet was she from? Suddenly my interest was piqued, which in retrospect was a terrible thing to happen. It meant I was about to pursue an endeavor I should have wisely backed away from. Unfortunately with Angela showing some sort of interest in knowledge gathering, I was bound to pry further.
"They say it’s been the hottest year on record in the last ten years", I sputtered.
Judging by her reaction, I could tell I had veered too quickly into nerd territory. I must have misjudged how much she cared about weather news, she had probably only heard the week’s forecast in passing, not an active follower of the broadcast like I had thought.
I had to quickly follow up with something ‘cool’ before losing her interest. I could feel my compadres’ gaze from all the way across the playground, I dare not mess this up now.
"Have…have you seen the new power rangers?"
Yes, you are probably rolling your eyes thinking to yourself, what a clown this guy is. Of all things he could come up with at the moment, it had to be a cheesy martial arts show. To my surprise though, Angela chuckled and nodded.
"Yes, I love it, how did you know I like stuff like that?"
I blinked, words failing to come to me. Did she just say she liked stuff like that? Was I in some alternate reality where gorgeous girls like Angela were actually cool and into nerdy stuff like I was? This was truly incomprehensible. I had these notions of the type of stuff Angela would like, and none of it seemed to fall in line with the stuff that interested in me. If I weren’t so nervous I probably would never have asked about the Power rangers to begin with. But in my error, I had found an opening. This girl was way cooler than I had thought. I had to know more.
"I…I didn’t know actually. I just took a guess. Who’s your favorite ranger?"
"Blue" she chimed. "Billy is so cool, though everyone thinks he is a wimp."
WHOA! It would seem I had found the ideal woman. Future mother of my kids and eventual partner or so I thought. My immature self couldn’t believe that this girl I had admired from afar, not only liked my type of shows, but she also liked my favorite ranger. We were destined to be I thought.
Maybe if I had slowed down a bit, I probably would have avoided the catastrophe about to happen. But alas, my mind was moving so fast, caution had been overtaken a long time ago.
"That’s so cool…Billy is my favorite too. He’s so not a wimp, remember when he helped the rangers infiltrate Rita’s dark dimension? I mean the guy is so smart, he doesn’t need to be tough all the time. Then there was that time he created the Radburg, and all those other inventions he keeps making. He is just too awesome. Sometimes I wish I were just like him"
Angela smiled at me patiently as I prattled on. She had that look one would give to an over excited toddler, waiting on them to calm down. It was only after realizing that I had said too much, that things really got dicey.
To a lot of people, what I am about to describe is downright disgusting if not disturbing. I apologize ahead of time, it wasn’t like I have control over such. Whilst this action till date is a source of embarrassment, you must also know, its helped me become my alter ego and has saved quite a few lives. It is not the coolest power in the world, but its mine and I have no regrets about it.
What power would that be, you might be wondering? Well…to cut it short, its GAS. Yes gas! You know, flatulence, flatus, breaking wind, farting and the myriad of names it has in popular culture. Mine just happens to be quite pungent, and by pungent I mean knock you out of your shoes type strong. Poor Angela and I were about to discover that.
Like I said, I had spoke too much about the power rangers and was feeling sorry for myself when I noticed something was stirring in my bowels. We’ve all had it. That feeling you are about to rip a nasty one but you desperately try to quell it so as not to make a scene. To complicate matters, I was about to do this nasty deed in front of the one girl I liked a whole lot. What a horrible feeling it was indeed.
I began to think of a way to save myself from this mess, hoping I could hightail it out of there before I let go of my ‘gas’.
"Well it was nice chatting with you Angela, I think I will go back to talk to my friends now…Enjoy your day."
I turned around to briskly walk back to where the other guys were, when Angela called out to me.
I froze on the spot. Desperately trying to push back the pressure building down below. I was losing the fight and I knew in any second now, it’d be coming out. From the way it felt, this was going to be a whopper. Why oh why did Angela stop me?
"Yes," I said. Turning around meekly. She walked towards me, smiling at me like I had something she wanted and was going to pry it out of me no matter what.
“Do you want to come and watch power rangers with me this weekend?”
ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!
I interrupt this recap of my life, to notify the reader of how epic that moment that just transpired was in real time. I cannot begin to explain to you, just how elated I got when she did that. At that age, it was probably similar to me winning the lottery. That’s how impactful her request was to me. Unfortunately, said moment was short lived, but hey I still can’t help but look back at it with some joy.
“I…I..would love to.” I stuttered, barely able to contain my excitement.
“Sweet! See you at ….”
She never got to give me a time, nor finish her sentence and I never got to go and watch Power rangers with her.
Why you may ask?
Well, at that very point in time, my bowels felt like they could not hold on to the flatulence anymore, releasing a devastating knockout punch that would not only daze me, but also Angela as well. I was told afterwards that both me and Angela fell to the ground and we were out for at least thirty minutes. The image I remember seeing of her before everything turned to black, was her scrunching up her nose, looking at me with such disgust and then crumpling to the ground. It was at that very moment that I discovered I was not normal, but it would take years for me to be able to control this ability and also prevent myself from passing out whenever I used it.
It is this same ability that would help me thwart several muggings, stabbings and all sorts of crime on the streets of Chicago. It was then I realized I had been blessed with the ability to knock people out simply by them taking a whiff of my fart.
Yes ladies and gentleman, on that particularly day in the playground, the hero that the world would come to know years later as fart man was created.