Here & Now with S Sorrensen - Nov 26
New Brighton Sunday, 9.40am: I feel it straight away. It’s not an ambiguous, ambient feeling; it’s an actual physical sensation – my Superman belt buckle is tingling. Something’s going on.
Looking around the cafe table with its cargo of half-drunk lattes, empty egg and hollandaise-streaked plates plus a packet of tobacco from the last living smoker, I realise no-one else can feel it. How could they? No-one else (in my crew anyway) wears a Superman buckle.
It’s a distress signal.
I’m in New Brighton, an old, pretty village beseiged on three sides by that sea of suburban development, Ocean Shores. It laps at the very borders of this little burgh. On the fourth side is the ocean shore.
A sea breeze wafts over our table at the cafe where we sit under a poinsiana tree in full, magnificently red, flower. The cafe verandah is filled with people doing coffee, eating breakfast and reading horror stories in newspapers. No room there, so I sit with friends at a table next to the road under the spreading poinsiana.
Of course I have a connection with Superman. I am S after all. And like Superman (and Howard the Duck) I am a stranger to this world.
My lovely companion and I journeyed to New Brighton yesterday from my solar system in the hills to the west. We undertook this dangerous trip to celebrate the birthday of a friend. She’s human but I like her. We travelled with our little caravan (the SS S) through the greenhouse heat of Lismore like a spaceship passing near a sun. Then we hit the cooler atmosphere of New Brighton.
The road beside where we sit is quiet. Across from it is a park. On that side and this, cars are parked. And not your dodgy old Camiras, Kombis and Commodores neither. No way. Next to us is a silver four wheel drive the size of my shack (after the extensions). Next to that is a dark blue Mercedes sports with yellow leather upholstery.
Everything seems peaceful enough.
Rich older hippie men with thinning grey hair tied in little ponytails drink soy lattes with their final wives. Women with expensive jewellery, Bali sandals and burnt skin adjust their sarongs before tucking into muesli and yoghurt.
The waitress has sparkling eyes and the coffee is excellent.
So why is my Superman buckle tingling?
My eye catches a glimpse of something – the Superman logo.
It’s Superman! Across the road from me!
It’s a small Superman for sure, about six or seven years old, but in full Superman dress.
And he’s stuck. He needs help. My buckle burns.
Though the road between the cafe and him is narrow; though there is no traffic; and though Dad leans out from the verandah and calls to him that it’s okay to cross, it’s still a road and his super-training will not allow him to cross. Without an adult.
A friend in human clothes (maybe a human half brother) and a few years older, puts his arm about little Superman’s shoulders urging him to cross. Dad nods vigorously encouraging him.
But he’s not moving. It’s a road, as fatal to a little Superman as kryptonite. His super feet are planted.
The human friend looks to the father and shrugs his shoulders. Little Superman starts to sob.
Time to act. I lift my super bulk from the chair.
But Dad comes down from the verandah, crosses the road, takes little Superman’s hand and walks him safely back.
As they pass my table I wink at the little Superman. He smiles.
I hope his dad looks after him. He’s one of us.