How a universe full of superheroes totally ruined my life

This is not a typical piece you’d read here at Motion/Captured, but when it was smuggled out of a mental health facility in the UK and then sent to me, I thought it was important to share. I wasn’t sure what I was reading at first, but once I understood, it seemed urgent that I help this man get his story out to the world.

Besides… I always wondered how this worked.

– Drew McWeeny

You have to listen to me. You have to help me.

They say I’m crazy.

It’s not just inaccurate; it’s rude. I’m not crazy. Or if I am crazy, I’m crazy because I’ve earned that right. You have no idea how strange my life has been. You have no idea the things I’ve seen. I’ve watched the world go crazy, little by little, and I think my reaction has been exceedingly sane, all things considered. If I tell you my story, you have to tell me what you think. You tell me what you would do if you saw and did and heard all of the things I have.

Has it really only been a little over a decade? Can the whole world change in just that amount of time?

At this point, so much has happened, and I’ve been so close to the center of all of it, that I am starting to suspect that I have a role in all of this that I did not even suspect at first. It may sound arrogant or even delusional, but there is a part of me that believes that none of this is even real, or that I may be some sort of God.

Hear me out. I lived a normal life for many years, for most of my time so far, and it was only in the year 2000 that things got strange. I know they got strange for everyone, but somehow, I’ve found myself tangled up in the way the world’s been changing and I just want to explain it all and see if you agree with me or not.

Retirement was supposed to be relaxing. I bought a little hot dog cart and thought I’d make some extra fun money selling hot dogs on hot summer days by the beach. It was a good excuse to get out of the house and look at some ladies in very little clothing, and I enjoyed doing it for a few months. Then that guy came walking up out of the water, the one we later learned was a Senator, and he did that disgusting jellyfish trick thing, and I pretty much decided I was done going to the beach.

I was in Times Square for that parade in 2002 when Spider-Man fought the Green Goblin. I say that like I had any idea what I was seeing when it happened. It’s not like they had nametags on or anything. What I saw was a parade with a big crowd on the sidewalks, some weird-looking guy on a glider-thing, some other weird-looking guy swinging on a rope or something, and a balcony from a skyscraper that almost fell on me. It happened so fast that it was only later, reading about it in the newspaper, that I realized how they were both trying to kill us.

And speaking of reading newspapers, don’t do it while you walk. It was a year later, in 2003, that I almost ate it in traffic. I had my face in the paper and thought the light had changed and took a step. A blind guy somehow knew what was happening, and he pushed me back to the curb, and again… at the time I thought it was odd but not over-the-top strange. I’m sure it was just a coincidence that there was a blind superhero working that exact neighborhood within six months of that happening. Right? Right?

I had to start doing part-time work again to help make ends meet, and that same year, I got a job as a security guard. I wouldn’t want to be the one someone relied on if things got physical, but when I saw the guy they were putting me with at work, I was pretty sure that wouldn’t be an issue. He looked like a gorilla wearing a baby t-shirt. It was ridiculous. That was a pretty great job until, you know, that whole gamma accident which eventually resulted in the creation of The Hulk. I’m sure that was just another coincidence, right?

You see what I mean? I am not just pretending to be connected to these events. Every time, I find myself somehow connected, somehow witnessing things, somehow participating. It’s not madness, and it has to be more than some random series of accidents.

In 2004, I was on another New York street, minding my own business, when I saw Spider-Man again. I’ve learned at this point that if I see him, it’s time to get to safety. The problem is figuring out where it might be safe when he’s in the mix, because things get destroyed. Sure enough, he was wrapped up with a crazy-looking guy with giant mechanical arms, smashing the crap out of each other and the buildings around them, and once again, I had to pull someone out of the way when a huge piece of debris almost fell on us. Thanks, Spider-Man. Thanks a lot.

It took me several years of trying before I managed to get my job as a mail carrier back. That’s what I did for almost 40 years before I retired, and once you’re out of the system, it’s a pain in the ass to get back into it. I got a great Manhattan route, though, and I spent pretty much every day in 2005 delivering mail to the Baxter Building and Reed Richards. This was before he was fantastic, too, so there’s no way you can claim I’m trying to chase these things around. I’m the magnet. I’m the one they’re drawn to. I’m sure of it… I am the reason that Reed Richards ended up becoming a superhero. I’m not sure how the mechanics worked or why it didn’t happen to anyone else whose mail I delivered, but you can’t argue with the timing.

I haven’t always handled it well. I’ll admit that. But you wouldn’t either in some of these circumstances. In 2006, I was at home one day, watering my lawn, minding my own business, and gravity stopped working. Try wrapping your head around what that really means. One minute, the water’s going from the hose to the grass. The next minute, it’s flowing up into the air, and there are cars floating all around me, and, yes, I may have pooped my pants. Just a little.

I started trying to explain what’s going on to people and I realized quickly that no one wants to know the truth. No one wants to believe that they are caught up in something larger than themselves, or that there might be some pattern behind the reality around you. I started revisiting the places where these things had happened to me. I went to Times Square often, and one afternoon, I remember telling a kid “One person really can make a difference. ‘Nuff said.” He looked at me like I was crazy. He wasn’t the first. And, sure, maybe I was drunk, but so what? I’m entitled after all of the things that have happened to me.

It was right around that same time that I tried to attend the wedding of Reed Richards. I am positive I was invited. I mean, come on. I delivered their mail every day. At least, I did it every day before the restraining order took effect and I was ordered not to come with 500 feet of any member of the Fantastic Four. Just because they didn’t feel like cutting me in on profits. I told you… the only reason he’s a superhero is because of me.

Don’t feel bad for me, though. I’ve tried to enjoy myself even as I’ve become more and more aware of my status as some sort of magical being. There’s this costume ball in LA that I’m invited to every year, and I remember in 2008, I went as Hugh Hefner. I didn’t even have to invite any girls along. If you look as much like him as I do and wear the costume, every single girl at the party dressed as a Playboy bunny will find you, and they did. We were standing outside afterwards and Tony Stark walked by. He must have been at the same venue for some other event, but the best part was that he thought I was the real Hef. He walked right up and started talking to me, and then his PR team hustled him away, and he never missed a beat.

I think the worst weekend of my entire life was later that year. I used to buy this crazy South American soda from this bodega down the street, and one afternoon I had a bottle and then… well, I don’t want to get too technical, because it would gross you out and because of the eventual settlement I made with the bottling company that prohibits me from sharing certain details, but let’s just say I may have forcibly misplaced one of my organs at a high rate of speed through an orifice not designed for such an event. When we were in court, I learned that the bottling plant had been closed and sealed by S.H.I.E.L.D., but that’s a secret, so don’t tell anyone.

It took me almost two years before I could travel again, but the next time I was in Los Angeles, it was for that same friend’s costume ball, and I had what I thought was an even better costume. I went as Larry King, and I had it nailed. Even so, I was surprised when, once again, I ran into Tony Stark, and once again, he seemed to think I really was who I was dressed as. He called me Larry, shook my hand, the whole nine yards. I know he’s a super-genius and a superhero, but that guy does not seem to understand what a costume is.

I tried to move away from New York for a while to try to help with some of the ongoing health issues from that soda, and New Mexico was nice in small doses. It was 2011 when I destroyed my brother-in-law’s truck trying to pull Thor’s hammer out of the ground. In my defense, the truck was a piece of shit and we didn’t know it was Thor’s hammer. I regret nothing. 

It was while I was staying with my sister that I found a letter from my father, written during WWII, part of a big box of stuff she had. Turns out he’d been at one of the first public introductions of Captain America, part of our father’s time in the Army. So this isn’t just me… it’s my whole family. We’re all involved somehow, bound to this parade of super-powered beings.

Maybe that’s why people misunderstood what I said when i was interviewed on the news after the battle of New York in 2012. It’s not that I don’t believe in superheroes. It’s just that I’m not sure why it’s news at this point. By the time I saw Captain America sitting in that outdoor cafe doing a terrible job hitting on that waitress, it had been 12 full years since I saw the freak on the beach. I’d come a long way from selling hot dogs and ogling girls in bikinis. I don’t know if I’d say I’m jaded at this point, but if no one’s going to listen to my story of how I am evidently the lynchpin to reality, then I’m not going to get excited about giant space whales fighting a green rage monster a few blocks away from the park where I’m playing chess.

Here’s how I know I’m invulnerable. When I was volunteering in a school library near my house, I had my third run-in with Spider-Man. I saw some footage from the school’s security system later that made it very clear I almost died about three times, but when it happened, I didn’t even realize he and that lizard-man thing were in the building. I was “jamming out with my clam out,” as the kids put it, to a Benny Goodman record someone had just donated to the school. If you saw that footage and you honestly believe I am a normal human being with that sort of luck, then I’d say that’s a bigger stretch than accepting the truth about my complete and utter and unwitting control of the fabric of the universe.

That’s how I won the contest to get to be a guest judge on “American Idol” this year. That’s how I won the sweepstakes to get to come to England for free. I decided to just start bending reality to my will, to start giving myself the things I want. If I am, in fact, the god of this universe, then I should start getting what I want and stop living like I’m making a cameo appearance in someone else’s life.

I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable when I tell you about my life and about the way the world really works. I’m sorry that the only way you know how to respond is to lock me in here and call me names. Just saying I’m crazy doesn’t make you right, though. You can’t deny the facts. You can’t hear my story and think this is all just some random series of walk-on encounters.

My name? Oh, god, I’m sorry. I thought I introduced myself.

I’m Stan Lee. And I want my damn shoe back.