On All the Things I’ve Wished I Was

This is pretty much how I see myself in the mirror.

This is pretty much how I see myself in the mirror.

The first inkling of an idea is intoxicating, filled with the promise that this is going to be the idea that changes everything. At that moment, the goal is right in reach and every door is open; this could lead anywhere. But the cold light of day moves the goal line somewhere over the horizon and forces you to pick a door. That door leads to more doors and you don’t always get to go back the way you came. Doors turn into walls and possibilities die. That’s why so many projects remain unfinished—it’s much easier to deal with what they should be rather than what they could be. The ones that do get finished are often hated for what they’re not, until a little distance proves them to be “fine.”

Such is life. Priorities change and possibilities shift. Doors close and doors open, sometimes through no fault of your own. As children all the big doors—president, ghost buster, tractor pull champion—are open, but it’s the little ones you can’t get through—2 am Taco Bell runs, unmonitored internet browsing. As an adult you can go to Taco Bell whenever you want, but you have to pay for it, both in money and in the knowledge that you’ll never be president. The goal is never as close as it seems.

In the months leading up to my first x-ray, I carried the secret hope that I was a Terminator. I knew I was not a T-1000, but I hoped that I was a precursor to Cyberdyne Systems Model 101; perhaps a prototype built before they figured out that cyborgs worked better when they didn’t feel pain and didn’t have to breathe. Hey, maybe the “Cystic Fibrosis”, as the humans called it, was a setting introduced to my system as a kind of governor and flashing my BIOS would unleash my latent power.

I am not a terminator. X-Rays and bone scans have revealed my frame to be not living tissue over a metal endoskeleton, but living tissue over slightly brittle bones. I’d put all my faith in door number 3 and come home with the zonk prize.

Though this metaphor breaks down here, because I think a llama makes a pretty badass prize.

Though this metaphor breaks down here, because I think a llama makes a pretty badass prize.

There was also a brief period where I hoped I might be a Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing, like most things in my life up to that point, was introduced to me via toy commercial back in 1991. He looked neat, so I made my grandmother buy all the toys and I watched all 6 episodes of the show that cycled through the Fox Kids Saturday morning line up. I remember nothing beyond the clunky “Wild Thing” parody that served as the theme song: “SWAMP THING! YOU ARE AMA-ZING!”

But years later—at an age way too old to be secretly hoping I was a Swamp Thing—I read Alan Moore’s run on The Saga of Swamp Thing comic. In the movies, cartoon, tv series and early comics, Swamp Thing is scientist Alec Holland, transformed into a “muck encrusted mockery of a man” when he jumped into the swamp after goons blew up the shack where he was working on his secret plant regeneration formula. However, in issue 21 of Saga of the Swamp Thing Alan Moore reveals that Swamp Thing was not Alec Holland transformed into plant matter, but plant matter pretending to be Alec Holland. It had formed a reasonable facsimile of a human body, a fact discovered when the doctor performing the autopsy on Swamp Thing’s body finds that Swamp Thing’s lungs are just decoration. Swamp Thing is just a pile a flora with shitty lungs pretending to real lungs. I may not be a terminator, but I am a reasonable facsimile of a human body. I had a shot at Swamp Thing.

Unfortunately, I don’t like the outside and trees and I don’t have control over all plant based life forms on Earth (and beyond). The most control I have over plant based life is that I take a pill in the morning that’s supposed to keep my facial orifices from leaking when I get too close to nature. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Another door closed, forcing me to walk through the last door available: that I’m a regular human with osteopenia, Cystic Fibrosis, diabetes and a little snaggletooth.

But, on the plus side, I can have Taco Bell pretty much whenever I want.


Footnote: In writing this, I’ve discovered that there’s actually a second version of the Swamp Thing theme, that switches out the “Wild Thing” backing track with some other stock music. Had I heard this version first, I probably would have forgotten all about Swamp Thing.