I  Am Not Superman #1

I  Am Not Superman #1


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Another example, women love his pseudo personality. Look, it does not matter what you do

during the day or what you look like, it’s what you wear, clothes and scent by the way . . .  

your action plan at night and how you execute it



I  Am Not Superman #1  

the insane confessions of a hopelessly romantic man


By Ng’ethe Githinji


Some years back a very good girl friend of mine and I were starting out in our professional careers and we were struggling with all the things that life throws at you, and in the midst of one of our many conversations I remember saying, and to be honest I cannot remember if I actually said it out or simply had the though, “I am not superman”. Sounds like an insane thing to say right? Well, let’s have a look.

Guys, You know the drill, men don’t cry, buckle up sonny boy, be a man, what’s wrong with you, be a man, how many notches on your bed post, who what were how did you do it with her, who else . . .  blah blah . . . and the beat goes on . . . To be honest, Ladies, even you know this drill, you expect it from us, say to each other you don’t want ‘weak men’, men who show their emotions, sometimes you even go ‘hunting in packs’ . . .  if you cant scare us into being the highly successful, rugged, motorcycle diary Ewan McGregor kind-a guy, sporting designer stubble . . .  you will intimidate us with your sheer numbers . . . we fuel it, we laud it from the roof tops of our over priced, over paid, mortgaged flats, to the inner sanctum of our match stick size homes and bedrooms that let us afford the prada knock offs and the Wacky way Oakley shades . . .  from the hype cocktail bars, to the highly rated morning noon and night hot radio stations, to the articles and agony aunt stories we all read and smile or smirk about in the papers we read in the seclusion of our rooms as  we hope to high heaven the agony aunts response will be useful to us even though we dare not admit it, we NEED the answers too . . .  tsk!

Imagine that! Ha! I would never date a man who is sensitive…. What do you mean he cares about how he dresses or looks????? He must be *&^!  We all do it . .  but here is the question . . .

Are you man enough to handle it all? Or will you kill yourself trying to? What’s the straw that’s going to break the camels back . . .  will you stay in a miserable marriage just to fulfill on some notion of you must be married and have children by the time you turn 40 or whatever age it is. . . . The cheesy questions at your cousins, brothers sixth cousin twice removed wedding . . . Your Aunty was wondering what is going on with you and that girlfriend of yours. . . . Is everything okay? All the time really wanting to know and not daring to ask the question we really want to ask . . .  is your mojo working mate? Will you deny your sexuality and one day, maybe, when you cannot take it any more… you know how that one ends . . .  spend your night driving up and down K street looking for a pavement princess or prince to comfort you, scratch the itch, fill the void, even for an hour . . . we know how this ends also . . .  STD, venereal disease. . . . He passed away after a long illness bravely fought (my foot, it was bravely fought!).

From the time we are children old enough to walk and run, this notion, ideology, maybe it’s a superstition to be honest; this is engrained in our psyche, it is now the very fibre of our being. . . .  So many decades and centuries has it been drummed into us men, that now, without any struggle, effort, thought or consideration we can fly this plan on auto pilot, and there is no black box to tell us what happened after it happens by the way . . . AND THEN the same thing happens to our sons, brothers, husbands and lovers . . .  its like a shampoo, apply, wash, rinse, repeat, apply, wash, rinse, repeat, apply, wash, rinse, repeat . . .

Now, you may be wondering what the correlation between what I have just said is and the phrase “I am not superman . . .” well, consider this, and by the way you probably already know this and I am by no means an expert on this, just a man sharing my insane confessions, friend or foe.  Let’s have a look. Superman always flies in to save the day, women love the notion of a man fighting for them, doesn’t matter if your up against 30 hooligans and all you have with you is a single red rose for her, she wants you to swoop into karate kid cum Jet Lee cum Chow Yun Fat action style, save the day AND not break the rose or lose a single petal, and still have your shoes shiny and the ironing crease of your trousers intact . . .

Another example, women love his pseudo personality. Look, it does not matter what you do during the day or what you look like, it’s what you wear, clothes and scent by the way . . .  your action plan at night and how you execute it . . .  what special effect have you employed, which CGI technology have you worked from, who’s your stunt double in case of high flying action . . .  that, that is what is most probably going on in the  background that will carry the day… Clark Kent proved that, bad glasses by day, super hero and fly guy by night. . . .You could be the store keeper at any shopping centre/mall/biashara in town, have the IQ of Einstein, the creativity of Martha Stewart or the comedy of Ellen Degeneres, as long as you’re wearing your overall and thick black rimmed glasses. . . . As long as when you step out at night you’re wearing a designer T-shirt or crystal white shirt with pinstripe non-pleat trousers, a designer jacket and cuff links to die for, it does not matter if you mortgage your parents plot in huruma to get it, you will not get recognized otherwise . . .

Superman is strong, never shows weakness, works long hours and still manages to sweep the girls off their feet, have you ever seen him take out a wallet or credit card to pay for stuff . . .  the brother does not need money, now that’s classy, recognized everywhere, never paying bills in front of anyone, ask and ye shall receive . . .  (Side bar – the man does not have pockets for a wallet or credit card, lets not even go into the wearing of tights and your underwear above them . . .  that’s a story for next time…).   

Okay back to business, so far he is the perfect man right?

Well, lets get serious for a bit, and this is where I want you to look and see if you recognize this man. . . . Imagine what it is like for a man, your son, your brother, boy friend, lover, father of your kid child. . . .  Imagine walking around life never saying what’s really going on for you, the fear, despair, desperation . . .  imagine spending your days always looking over your shoulder wondering who knows what about god knows what you had to do to put food on the table, pay school fees . . . Consider the nights your man does not come home as early as you want him to . . .  yes sometimes there are men out there drinking themselves into an early grave for the sheer pleasure of it, BUT consider there are men out there simply waiting. Waiting till everyone in the house is asleep, and then they can come home. The fear of failure is an innate human characteristic; we don’t want to fail . . . AND add on to that the expectations we have of our men/sons/brothers/lovers to be the best not that they can be, but be the best we want them to be . . .

I AM NOT SUPERMAN – I am a man – sometimes I cry when I see bad things happen to good people on the news, sometimes I cry when I watch really sappy, cheesy movies on satellite television, when I have the flu I want to lie on the sofa fetal position, under a duvet, drinking hot chocolate, I don’t want to brave the world and go to work like a soldier marching off for the glory of a nation.. Sometimes I am so scared of failing that all I can do to hold it together is to sit in silence and pray to god you don’t ask me, are you okay . . .  because that may be the straw that breaks my back. . . .

I want to sponge on a sofa, I want the person I love to come sit with me, talk meaningless nothing about life . . .  laugh at insane comedies, lie on the sofa and not have to think Oh My god they probably expect sex any time now because that’s what every fiber in my body has been taught—men and women cannot just be friends?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Since when?

Now, I am a lucky man to be honest, and if you’re reading this brother man and want to know salvation, then listen to me brother men . . .  I have some of the best guy friends I  could ever wish for, we talk about bad relationships getting worse, and we talk about vicious cycles of relationships, why do I always end up here. . . . We talk about how come you’re not in a relationship. Do you want one or not, either way it’s cool. . . . I have even had conversations with some of my guy friends about who they should or should not date, sleep with, have sex with (2 different things by the way!) Now I am not saying by any means, I am perfect and have perfect friends, what I am saying is . . .  if you’re brave enough, can muster enough courage to take the first step to authentic guy relationships, and thank you very much I am not referring to the homoerotic kind, you will not only be surprised how liberating it is but also what the gals know and never told you about . . .

Sometimes what it takes to make it through the day, week, marriage . . .  is a wine and chocolate and ice cream session at your friends’ house in the middle of the night, or the crying, yes, crying into the plush cushions on the sofa on a Sunday morning after she leaves you that will make the difference . . .  god knows I have . . .  

So, as I whoosh off into the sunset, off to save another day, find the love of my life,  companionship, and maybe, just maybe if am lucky, a couple of really great guys and gals to hang out with . . .  I leave you with this . . .  here’s my motto for the week—a good whine deserves a great WINE . . .  take a deep breath, stop for a minute pick up the phone and save someone’s life . . . Ciao’

Ng’ethe Githinji graduated from Coventry University in the UK with a Degree in Graphic Design. He has worked in Advertising as a copy writer and art director, in Kenya’s fast growing mobile telephony industry as a project coordinator, and he now works for myself in graphic design, client relations and event coordination. He is also an Introduction Leader for Landmark Education here in Kenya. (Landmark Education). His passion and commitment is that people have successful lives and are proud of who they are no matter what

posted 7 July 2007

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update 15 December 2011




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Related files: Twenty Short Stories of Love  I  Am Not Superman #1

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