Here's "The Thing"

As you can imagine, this weekend was rife with comic-book-related discussion. If you can't imagine why, well... Go one post back. That's why.

Anyway, there was a discussion with some comic book pros that actually departed from the controversy of the time, and at one point, the "Which Superhero Are You?" conversation came up.

Now, this is a conversations comic book nerds have, oh, once a week at least. And it's because, pro or fan, the reason we love comic books is because we want to be superheroes. We long for this revelation to occur in our lives where we discover that we have a latent mutant power, or are bitten by a radioactive insect, or get visited by a world-eating cosmic entity who turns us silver and gives us a surfboard.

Wow, the Silver Surfer sure sounds stupid when you describe him like that.

Anyway, whenever I'm asked that question, I usually say something silly like Moon Knight or Beppo The Super Monkey. Because I do that when I don't want to really talk about a thing; I deflect with a joke and say something stupid. And if you're not a comic book fan, you should know that Moon Knight and Bebo the Super Monkey are both very, very stupid.

But the truth is, I've always seen myself as "The Thing."

Online, or on paper (in my books or journal), I feel like Ben Grimm.

Gruff, but somewhat intelligent. Aware. I am normal. I speak to people normally and naturally. I am able to chat with them without any difficulty. I can share my thoughts and my feelings and I have great ideas. I can get those ideas out and people read or view or interact with them, and there are occasionally times where I feel like my work pays off.

In person, people meet me and no matter how hard they try, I see it in their faces and their body language and the first thing that I get from them: "Whoa."

I'm huge. I'm covered in tattoos. I'm a freak. I speak loud, but I don't especially mean to speak loudly. It just comes out that way. I speak my mind, and even when I try to temper it or hold it in, it comes out as brash. I take big steps when I walk, and I move with purpose. But sometimes I'm big and clunky and bump into things, and I feel bad when I do.

I'm enthusiastic, say some. Crazy, say others. And still others go and and use two words, choosing from a mix of terms that all translate into "Fucking annoying." But at the end there is this 6' 3" 299 lb guy trying to communicate with people who, at least initially, see a gorilla fumbling with the tv remote. And they "ooh" and "ahh" when I miraculously get it to work, like being right was a fluke, but one borne of a really smart monkey putting himself in the right place at the right time. And certainly there's some merit for intelligence in simply doing that.

Sometimes, they even give me a banana.

This isn't self pity, this is the truth. And I laugh about it. I am okay with it. It is what it is. I cannot tell you how many times a year I hear the words "I never knew you were intelligent" (or some variant of it; "I never pegged you as a writer," "I never knew you knew so much about [computers, the internet, digital campaigns, whatever]", and so on).  I mean what the hell is that supposed to mean? In what universe is that actually a compliment? You're not applauding my insight in that last statement, you're telling me it is the exception which proves the rule. I'm a doof who just said something you considered amazing for my assumed level of intellect.

Inside me is this Ben Grimm, this guy who wants more than anything to be understood and heard, because he really does have dome good ideas and wants to share them. Conversation is cherished and the sharing of ideas is the number one thing I seek. And it gets reduced to a sideshow, more often than not. And so, I just hang out in the engineering bay, moving what heavy things need moving, and showing up when it's Clobberin' Time.

This stopped making me sad a long, long time ago. But it's why I am the way I am. And a good many of you whom I've known online for a good number of years are going to meet me for the first time this weekend at the Fark Meetup in Vegas. And you should know, this is how it goes.

And it's alright. Because that's how it works. And I don't blame you. For me, it's actually a game these days -- how long before it takes someone to look past the "dumb jock" exterior and hear something I actually say for what it is, without it having some specific weight or caveat or asterisk because it's me saying it.

And I'm not going to rip into you if you discuss the redesign kerfuffle from '07 with me, and I'm not going to beat you up if you disagree with my opinion on the Barenaked Ladies. When I see myself in the mirror, I don't see this guy who towers over most he meets and needs people to bring a ladder to give them a hug. I just see a guy. And that's what I see when I see you -- just guys and girls, whom I'm excited to get to know. I don't think of myself as The Thing most of the time. But there it is, always with me.

Just know that it's alright, and if I crush your hand when I shake it, it was simply an accident caused by overexposure to Gamma rays.