"Be your own hero, it's cheaper than a movie ticket." ~Doug Horton
Years ago, as a mild mannered artist, I cleaned apartments for professors, photo-editors, designers, television and Broadway producers, a photo instructor, a chiropractor and even a guy who made wigs for Saturday Night Live. And with keys in hand, I traveled my own Metropolis via the New York City subway system as a cleansing crusader (minus the spandex of course.)
Most of my clients wanted the "usual" stuff -- a scrubbed bathroom, a shiny fresh kitchen, for me to swing a duster here and there, to chase the vacuum around and then to finish it all off with a quick mopping. But for extra cash I also performed super-human feats by running errands, organizing closets, collecting dry cleaning, ironing linens, polishing silver, changing sheets, picking up groceries, washing windows, making floral arrangements, baby-sitting, rearranging entire rooms, and even choosing furniture, bedding and draperies.
But my regular Tuesday client was a dusk-to-dawn affair who wanted it "all" and then some...including laundry done in the building's machines three flights down. With my arms filled to capacity, I found my way to the basement for an afternoon of "fluff-n-fold."
In a small communal laundry room next to the boiler, at the folding table tucked neatly between two coin-operated machines, I'd regularly see Superman (Really!). There, like clockwork was Christopher Reeves in street clothes. But even without his red cape, red boots, red boxers and blue uni-tard, in my mind he was still faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, a strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with a laundry list of powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.
Yep, "the flesh and blood" Christopher Reeves, the same one who was beloved by millions as both the mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent, and Superman, the "Man of Steel." But in this odd, mundane but very real setting, he became for me not just Christopher Reeves, but rather Clark Kent in a Christopher Reeves disguise -- casually hiding behind glasses and a baseball hat while pushing mismatched loads of his family's clothing into and out of washers and dryers. It was like seeing Clark Kent impersonating a bumbling Christopher Reeves so that I -- just for that moment -- might feel super (and superior, because boy did he not know how to wash clothes!). Similar to the way Superman impersonated a bumbling Clark Kent to make others feel like they, too, were a cut above.
But unlike Superman, our Birthday-boy (September 25) Mr. Reeves wasn't rocketed to Earth from a distant planet; never squeezed coal into diamonds, couldn't travel back in time or soar into outer space, wasn't capable of moving planets, and -- in this instance -- wasn't very good at doing laundry, either.
Had he just divided his whites, colors and dark fabrics into separate loads and added a capful of white vinegar to his laundry, he would have kept his colors bold and his whites bright. Never-the-less, regardless of his less than super washing powers evidenced in his pink-stained tidy-whities and dingy-gray baby diapers, for me, Tuesdays have forever remained "Sorting with Superman Day."
Since my cleaning days, we've all lost a super-hero to human frailty. But what I've taken away from the time spent while folding and sorting is that whether troubled by twisters, ponderous over plummeting airplanes, upset by metropolis-squashing meteors, or even let down by loads of lackluster laundry, Superman, Clark Kent, Christopher Reeves, and even you and I continuously teeter-totter between our humanity, the spin cycle, those missing red boxers, and a fickle, ever-changing universe.
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