The distinction between hero and superhero lies not in courage or costume, but in a simple question: Do you have an archnemesis? Not a regular ol' enemy; we all have regular ol ' enemies. I'm talking about a person (or creature) who reappears in your life over and over and over with a the single goal of destroying you.
[A philosophical discussion of heroism lies outside the scope of this blog post, but please note that having an archnemesis doesn't necessarily make you a superhero. It might make you a supervillain.]
I understood early in life that I was a hero, but it wasn't until my teenage years that I began to realize that I was a superhero. The best way to explain it is for me to list my enemies by year. I believe you'll begin to see a pattern.
1987, age 9
Casey Johnson's dad — Chooses daughter over me to play shortstop, even though she doesn't have the arm/fielding skill. Blocks vote for me to be on league all-star team. Makes me sit on bench for all basketball season.
Boys — Suddenly less interested in playing kickball, more interested in snapping other girls' bra straps.
Bowser — Super Mario Brothers: Moves princess from castle to castle, throws hammers/blows fire at my head.
1990, age 12
Ms. Duck &mdash Makes me stand at board looking like idiot while she teaches class. Says I'll stay there until I remember how to do algebra problem from day before. Will never remember because was drawing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles day before.
Rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places &mdash Transition from children's church to youth group yields new information on Satan and his plans to destroy my life by making me engage in intercourse, alcoholism, swearing.
Bowser — Super Mario Brothers 3 Entire kingdom behind me now, giving me gifts along my journey. Bowser still intent on crushing/drowning/lighting me on fire.
1994, age 14
Everyone who doesn't understand me! &mdash i.e. everyone! Only one who understands possibly Fiona Apple or Jewel.
Casey Johnson &mdash Ha! Not really. Sits on bench at her high school, dad in stands, while I score 24 points against her team.
Bowser &mdash Super Mario World Have to chase him to Dinosaur Land, where he is wreaking more havoc than ever. Aided by Yoshi this time, which makes journey more enjoyable.
1999, age 21
FICA &mdash surviving in Real World much harder than previously expected as FICA, etc. take money will-nilly from weekly paycheck.
Bowser &mdash Super Mario 64 Creepier than ever in 3D, plus harder to battle as N64 controller sucks donkey balls.
2004, age 26
Jerry Falwell &mdash Distorter of truth, spreader or ignorance, hate, lies.
Voldemort &mdash Self-explanatory.
Bowser &mdash Super Mario 64 DS Still same asshole from 64, but smaller and easier to handle with DS keyboard.
2009, age 30
Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh &mdash See: Falwell.
Warner Brothers &mdash Keep dicking around with Half-Blood Prince release date.
Bowser &mdash Mario Kart Wii Impossible to share tunnel/track/desert with. Perscribes to theory of: do not need road manners if ten ton truck. Growls and shoves me into abyss every. single. time. on Wario's Gold Mine. Bastard.
Do you see what I mean? That's how I know I'm a superhero. Also, the cape. (I lied about the costume not mattering.)