Single-Minded: On the Making of a Superhero
There's a fine line between ''superhero'' and ''villain.'' I should know. I've been both.
But even with all that pent-up obsession, when the time came for my comic book christening, when my then-sorta-boyfriend told me he called me Perfect Girl, I used my amazing superpowers to keep my mouth shut because in the end it was my fault.
I'd spent the last 30 days doing everything to prove myself worthy of a cape and tights. When he called me at 3 a.m. wanting to talk about nothing in particular (but really everything indefinable), I answered the phone (which had been waiting impatiently beneath my pillow). When he wanted dinner, I cooked as if I hadn't been ordering the No. 17 from Sala Thai for the last six nights in a row. I did his laundry while going pantyless by necessity. I gently lectured him on fiscal responsibility while waiting in line at ACE Check Cashing and Pay Day Loans.
In short, it was no surprise then, that when given the Rorschach test of all premeditated crap I never usually do, the suicidal adjective that leapt from my future arch nemesis' lips was ''perfect.'' It was an involuntary response based on shoddy research, like having a panic attack after a missed period. Just wait a couple more days.
What shocked me was that he'd actually bought it. He seriously believed that he'd found the Ivy League Barbie Doll, the fully posable collector's edition. No wonder Frances refused to buy me those monsters as a kid. It wasn't about the impossible complex I'd develop--to be young, gaunt and blonde--but the all-too-possible fulfillment of that fantasy. That's who Perfect Girl was. Just a momentary lapse in perception. I figured pretending to be perfect would work just as good as being.
Thing was, he didn't want perfect. He wanted regular. ''You are actually better than me as a person,'' he confessed, unnecessarily. ''If we had a person contest, you would defeat me--handily.'' This scared him as much as it did me. So in my quest to be a super woman--protecting my secret identity until it was safe--I ended up stuck in the phone booth too afraid to let my overworked Clark Kent off for a day. Because the only real difference between heroes and heartbreakers is timing.
Helena Andrews is a regular contributor to The Root. Her book, Bitch Is The New Black, will be released this summer. Follow her on Twitter.