By Craig Ruvere
Growing up in the early 1980’s, I remember being fascinated by fictional superheroes that seemed to possess extraordinary magical powers and strength.
Some of my favorites included Batman, Spider-Man, He-Man and The Incredible Hulk to name a few. I remember spending countless hours in my basement or out in the backyard, re-enacting sequences I had seen on television with my tiny toy action figures. And when I was done playing with my molded plastic heroes, it was my turn to jump and run around as though I actually possessed some sort of super-human abilities.
Ah the imagination of a child certainly does run wild.
I guess for a shy, sensitive and overweight young boy, who was often teased at school, the life of a superhero was something I envied and held close to my heart. They were always there in my mind, like an old friend, providing me with a much needed dose of courage and strength when the bullies on the playground needed someone to taunt.
But I’m an adult now, and it’s been a long time since I’ve given any thought to my superhero friends from the past. That was until I came across the following headline on a popular news site.
The headline read simply “Fireman dresses as Spider-Man to rescue boy.”
The story occurred in Bangkok, and focused on a young 11-year-old boy who suffered from autism. As with any child suffering from his disorder, changes are often very difficult to adjust to. When a new school year arrived the young boy was riddled with anxiety and fear.
In an effort to run away from the situation at hand, he climbed out onto a third floor balcony – dangling his feet over the edge, completely unaware of the danger he was putting himself in.
Both his teachers and his frantic mother tried repeatedly to coax the young boy back inside unsuccessfully. This prompted a call to local firefighter, Somchai Yoosabai.
“He was nervous about the first day at school, and he was asking for his mother,” Somchai said. “He cried and refused to let any of us get close to him.”
Thankfully Somchai overheard a conversation between the boy’s mother and his teachers saying how much he loved superheroes - especially Spider-Man. It was at that moment when Somchai remembered he kept a Spider-Man costume back at the station, which he often used to hold youngster’s attention whenever visiting schools.
After a quick costume change, he reappeared in the superhero’s attire. “I told him Spider-Man is here to save you. No monster will hurt you now. Then I told him to walk slowly toward me. I was very nervous that he might have slipped if he got too excited and ran.”
But to everyone’s delight, the young boy, eyes still filled with tears, smiled and started slowly towards his favorite superhero before jumping safely into his arms.
Amazing how Spider-Man, without the help of special effects or computer generation, was actual able to stand proudly atop a building and come to someone’s rescue. I’m sure it’s a moment Somchai and that little boy will not soon forget.
I guess no matter your age, we all want to feel safe – to take solace in the fact that someone’s looking out for us. Giving us courage and strength when we feel defeated – showering us with compassion and understanding when we feel discriminated against.
Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes. For that little boy on the balcony, he looked a lot like Spider-Man. But for many of us, they probably look a lot like the people we have the great pleasure of knowing each and every day.
See more of Craig's writings on The View from Here.