Otwo Attempts… Superheroism

 
 

He may just be an urban legend these days, but there was a time when Observer Man was integral to the safety of UCD, as [CENSORED] reports.

2011 is the year that Hollywood went too far. My tolerance for superhero movies had finally worn out; the market was now oversaturated and one question continued to plague my mind – If Greg Lantern can do it, why can’t I?

I would defend the people of University College Dublin, fighting off the evil and maniacal degenerates of our fair concrete jungle and throwing out a few witty one-liners for good measure. I’d need to conceal my identity though.

First, I’d need a name, and there could only be one option. Observer Man was the unanimous choice, and would now be the hero synonymous with unwavering moral strength and an undying pursuit of justice in UCD. Admittedly, the name provokes images of dubious-looking men wearing trench coats and stalking public toilets, but every self-respecting superhero should have an ample blind spot for his own absurdity.

I decided to forgo giving Observer Man some tragic back-story, but his costume would make up for that. No Hollywood budget would be afforded to him – I think the total cost was something like €11. And the costume wouldn’t be tailored to the very specific needs of the modern crime fighter – a quick trip to his friendly neighbourhood Penneys would do nicely.

An outfit was fashioned out of two pairs of tights, a red t-shirt with the University Observer logo proudly emblazoned on its front, a pair of winter gloves and a cape made from a curtain. In homage to Superman, I’d wear pants outside of my tights. And we couldn’t let the 5-pack we bought go to waste, so the all-important mask would also be shaped from men’s briefs as well. The whole ensemble looked suitably ridiculous.

Judgement day. It was time I suited up. The mask’s eye holes were a little too big for my liking, so we covered the bare skin around my eyes in black white-board marker. I felt tears coming to my eyes, but why? The ink could have been irritating my skin, or maybe I just wasn’t reveling in the prospect of running around campus in a cape and tights for a couple of hours. Have you ever seen a superhero have an existential breakdown? It’s not pretty.

In the days leading up to this epic moment, all I could consider was what hard liquor I’d be funneling down my neck beforehand. As it turns out, three bottles of Bangkok’s finest ‘nrg drink’, Revamp is all I would need to muzzle my rational self. One final touch: A shiny leather belt with an obscenely large buckle gave my costume the camp factor it had apparently lacked.

So many questions were racing through my caffeine-addled mind. Would students welcome this reckless vigilante? How would I react to oppressive college authorities when we came to an inevitable conflict? Just how revealing was my costume? But this was not the time for questions; this was a time for action. I was ready, but not really. Either way, it was time to go.

I strutted out of the office and into the Student Centre, because even if I didn’t feel that confident, I had to be strong for the citizens of UCD. I was followed by my entourage, which consisted of my personal photographer, film-maker and DVR-carrier. The three of them lagged behind as I jogged through Brava.

As I hollered my way through the unsuspecting crowds, disaster struck. The camera had run out of battery and without photographs, we would be excluding those unlucky enough to miss Observer Man in the flesh. We dejectedly trudged back to the office. I checked my e-mails and a few minutes later we were ready to roll. We stormed out of the office once more. Shit was gonna get fucked.

Instantly, my Observer Senses (i.e. my eyes) started tingling as I recognised a couple of freshers in danger. Flame on. They were having trouble finding the Student Centre on the map; I told them it was right behind them. Things were looking up – maybe this wouldn’t be such an insurmountable task after all. As I wandered down the concourse, I saw a great sense of relief wash over the faces of everyone I passed. They needed someone to keep them safe/give them directions when their Orientation Guides were busy. I would usually be happy to oblige, but for Observer Man, it was a duty not to be shirked.

I went to patrol the lake. All was calm, but that’s always the first sign of danger lurking. Naturally, I decided to see if I could fly. Observer Man leapt off a high wall as all around him marvelled, before coming down to ground with an earth-shattering thud and a bruised heel. Failure. It appeared that his powers had been sapped and he would have to get by on theatricality and extraordinary moxy. Now, more than ever, he needed to persevere and ensure that the student body kept faith in him. It was an inspiring sight for all to see as Observer Man staggered along, conversing with his admirers, having photos taken with them and even attempting the ‘Single Ladies’ dance.

In truth, it was all becoming a bit too much. Every great superhero should be a silent guardian of his people, but I was attracting unwanted attention. I needed to escape, and fast. I whipped my cape over my head and headed to a nearby building; it was as stealthy a getaway as I could possibly manage.

The smell of fake tan, instant coffee and pending unemployment stung my nostrils. I had to be in Newman. Sure enough, I found a young woman using Facebook on one of the Stand ‘n’ Surfs and it was all I could do not to punch her, and proceed to ‘frape’ her repeatedly. A vocal humiliation would have to be sufficient; it seemed as if she had learned her lesson. Observer Man’s mistrust of Arts students knows no bounds, so this was clearly an area he would have to closely patrol, but I really needed a piss first.

I headed to the men’s, where I was faced with another psychopath. A young man, fresh from the urinals, had not washed his hands. I soon set him straight, striking the fear of God in him, but I was beginning to feel that Arts was a lost cause. What was the point?

I could feel my cynicism grow during the lecture I gave in Theatre L. It had only been attended by two girls. There I was, gifting these pearls of wisdom and nobody cared. I was being taken for granted by those people I had done so much for. I just wanted to feel appreciated, but this was becoming a demoralising exercise. I was slipping over to the dark side.

Where once I had been a beacon of light and truth, I was now about to use my fame and dizzying physique for more self-serving ends. Those two attendees are now in are now in my phone book, I commandeered the TV cameraman outside Theatre L to film me as I ruthlessly beat his colleague and then ordered an O2 sales rep to give me a superhero discount on their student internet package. I was on a rampage and nobody could stop me.

Observer Man’s conversion to nihilistic super-villain only accelerated as he left the Arts building. When presented with a No Smoking sign, what did he do? He smoked two cigarettes simultaneously. He didn’t give a second thought to the impressionable young minds that surrounded him. A few minutes later, he saw a flower bed, so he started kicking it, like some kind of remorseless bad ass. And then, in the Orientation Tent, he faced off with Education Officer, Sam Geoghegan. He broke his nose, but that may have been somewhat deserved. To top it all off, he tipped over a bin when it got in his way – and didn’t even stop to pick it back up. All the while, I could feel that this was not the way to regain UCD’s respect and appreciation. I was ashamed of Observer Man. I was ashamed of myself for letting him become this monster.

I was left to consider Observer Man’s legacy in the Student Bar. In light of his recent actions, it was obvious he had failed. Pint in hand, I came to the decision to retire Observer Man before he became too big a burden to the people of Belfield. Also, my foot was beginning to hurt and I’d become more comfortable in my tights than I would ever want to admit, but it was mostly the burden/pure evil thing.

For all my good intentions, Observer Man was easily corruptible and ultimately served to inspire horror and panic in the good men and women of UCD.  In short, I was pretty shit. I wasn’t the hero UCD needed, but the hero it deserved.

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