I remember the black and white cans lining the shelves, the cans advertising “Muscles in Heavy Syrup.” This was the Brooklyn Superhero Supply, which I happened upon during a recent walk-the-hood touch-base with my beloved old haunt.
Park Slope, Brooklyn was my home for eight formative years, with 8 x 52 x 5 of walking down 5th Avenue each morning on my way to the F station and stopping at Anthony’s Italian deli to pick up my usual breakfast–two cans of Diet Coke and a brownie–as Anthony, hearing my voice, would scurry up with a dripping taster’s spoonful of the eggplant parmigiana he was already preparing for commuters’ lunches.
Brooklyn has changed since then. There’s now a remarkable community writing center on 5th Avenue, fronted and funded by the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store. Here, one’s most cherished visions of extra-human powers can be storebought:
A 16-ounce can of X-Ray Vision. A half gallon of Invisibility, described as “the oldest, most trusted strategy for remaining undetectable while fighting crime. When coated in Bugayenko Invisibility, you will not absorb or reflect light. Please keep that in mind when crossing the street or attempting to ask someone out.” Or catalog item #03578, Strong Vacuum Suction Cups, listed as “the ultimate solution for flightless superheroes.”
As an entering superhero, my difference from mortal humans is validated with signs covering all the walls, such as “If you are invisible, please make your presence known,” and “Rivalries and archrivalries must be left outside the store.” I see, too, that “The vow of heroism is not to be taken lightly.”
The Brooklyn Superhero Supply store is utilitarian, all except for the cape-testing station, where a highly regarded floor fan billows out the customer’s choice of red or black garment so that its movement against an internal image of one’s flying superhuman self. I instantly channel the companionship of my friend Charley, a Presbyterian minister with the playful spirit of an otter, who has on occasion jumped out of closets wearing his clergy gown and, inspired by the superheroes of comics past, declared, “It’s … … Clergy Man!”