Twenty-eight years ago, I was born with the lungs of a malnourished dachshund and the breath capacity to match. Fear of sports and an appropriately terrible palette of motor skills nudged me from t-ball to comic books, and I became obsessed with superhero narratives, which I quickly decided were the key to personal happiness.
Eight years ago, I wrote a paper about Batman as a symbol of "radical [political] centrism," a term that the drastically underinformed, National Review-reading, 22-year-old Andy was incredibly proud of (mistakenly) believing he created.
Six years ago, I flew to an academic conference to present the paper to a group of my peers. A woman in my session took issue with my interest in a specific comic book writer as infallible evidence of my "hot rod misanthropy"—I'll never forget how awesome that phrase was—and a lovely fellow student from my university chuckled out loud at my dismissive response to the interlocution. Realizing that Fellow Student and I were sharing the flight home, I asked a flight attendant to help me ask her out, which she did. Fellow Student had a boyfriend, though, so it was a wash. Regardless, a new long-term friend was made.
Three years ago, Fellow Student set me up with a friend of hers. Her Friend and I went on two or three dates, but with about as much chemistry as a humanities degree (although I eventually, drunkenly made out with her on a twin bed during an episode of Archer and then never called her again because of my own shame. She hates me to this day, perhaps not unreasonably).
Two years ago, Her Friend started dating a guy I ended up becoming pals with, a mutual affinity for James Ellroy and fish tacos bridging our shared introversion.
Four-and-a-half months ago, when I was looking for work in a new field, Her Friend's (now-)ex-boyfriend recommended a former employer of his, where I found a happy new occupational home.
Four months ago, after scrimping quarters from couch cushions and living a Netflix-free June, my first paycheck paid for the four beers you shared with me at the local pub, first date conversation drifting to ethereal longings for home and an exhaustion at theretofore not finding what we'd both always wanted.
And now, there you are, on my couch, snoring while I watch Justified, and I'll never let anyone, ever again, say that superheroes never brought me anything.