The Adventures of Maple Leaf Lady

I feel like I would be a clumsy superhero if I were one. I’ve given this a lot of thought.

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I would probably get my powers in a very Peter Parker way. As in I would acquire them accidentally and they would likely be better suited for just about anyone else. I’m thinking it would be something like fortuitously ingesting maple syrup that came from a radioactive maple tree. It would happen casually at Sunday morning brunch between mimosas and gossip and then I would wake up Monday morning with maple powers.

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Of course maple powers would be strange and nearly useless super powers—essentially I would be just as useful as Aquaman. Maple powers would hypothetically involve sticky hands and feet so I would have the ability to climb walls and trees and tall buildings. I would also probably be able to throw maple syrup from my hands and stop bad guys in their tracks. The syrup would also make a nice gag for when super villains get too chatty and you’re just like, “shut up already, we all know this isn’t going to end well for you”. Unlike Spiderman I’m sure that dexterity would not accompany my newfound powers. Not even extra ordinary skills could make me graceful.

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After some stumbling around and adapting to my newfound abilities, I will realize that I have to do the right thing. I must fight crime with my sugary powers. It is the burden that those of us who are born gods, are genius billionaires, were genetically altered in the 1940s, or ingested syrup without inspecting the label first must bear.

I’ll start like Matt Murdock before he took up the Daredevil mantle: with a makeshift costume and injured a lot because I’ve underestimated my opponents.

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As time passes I’ll start to make it into the headlines of the local newspaper.

MAPLE LEAF LADY STOPS PANCAKE THIEF AT DINER

MAPLE LEAF LADY SENDS HUNDREDS OF CRIMINALS TO DENTIST AND THEN PRISON 

MAPLE LEAF LADY APPROACHED TO BE THE NEW FACE OF AUNT JEMIMA SYRUP

You know, usual super hero press.

Maple Leaf Lady. That will be what they call me. It’s not the greatest moniker but it’ll be better than anything I could come up with. As it is a symbol for my powers, I will have a costume crafted with a maple leaf emblem. I will ultimately be to Canada what Captain America is to America…even though I will primarily be stopping crime in the States. You just can’t throw a maple leaf on your chest and not be a symbol for Canada.

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It goes without saying that I’ll have to establish a secret identity to protect my family and friends from the enemies I make. If you aren’t a billionaire with your own company to run, you should probably work at a newspaper if you have super powers to hide. So, I’ll probably have to change careers to create my plain-Jane-fly-under-the-radar alias. I’ll make the transition from publishing to journalism and stop wearing my contacts. Hiding behind my glasses and writing an advice column will surely protect my identity.

Unfortunately the villains I’ll fight will likely be the reject criminals that the real super heroes don’t have patience for. It’s fine. I won’t be picky about who I serve my syrupy justice to. Book-Man might not be as big of a threat as Loki but stopping him from hacking into library databases to get his overdue fines erased is just as important as fighting in the Battle of New York.

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I’m sure there have been times when Green Arrow suits up thinking about how much he would rather be playing Minecraft with Green Lantern instead of preparing to go kick some ass or when Superman wakes up on the wrong side of the bed thinking, “fuck, I’ve got to save the world today” when really he just wants to kick back with a beer and watch TV.

I have the opposite problem. Sometimes I think “fuck, wouldn’t it be really cool to fly right now?” or “I wish I had enough money to do whatever necessary to throw people off my vigilante trail”.

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I have a wild imagination and a mild obsession with all things super hero. Unfortunately I am not from Krypton and my access to high-tech super suits is quite limited. Maple Leaf Lady is the best I have to offer the world.

Superman might be flying off to save Metropolis from whatever is ailing the city this week, thinking about that cold Heineken waiting for him in the fridge and the episodes of The Bachelor on his DVR but I’m on the train writing this blog post about my recently acquired superpowers under my alias’s alias.

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No, but seriously I’m not unconvinced that syrup at brunch wasn’t radioactive…

Hats

I don’t remember much. Often if I don’t write something down I will forget it. My room is covered in old lists that say things like “do laundry” and “buy Dad a birthday gift” and “you have a job, don’t forget to go to work”.

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In spite of my horrible memory, I distinctly remember my kindergarten graduation. In the classroom, before we got in line and marched two-by-two to the gymnasium, we had to pick a hat to wear during the ceremony. We were to choose between police hats, doctor’s head mirrors, cowboy (or girl) hats, fireman hats, princess crowns, etc. The headwear was symbolic of our futures, of course. Of the great destinies we had ahead of us.

When it was my turn to choose a hat, I chose the princess crown. Even if a writer hat existed, I inevitably still would have chosen the princess crown.

I’d like to imagine that five-year-old me was standing there contemplating the choices my peers made as we congregated in the classroom, wearing these new identifiers.

Does Sarah like the doctor’s head mirror or is that what her parents want to see her wearing?

Does Emily really think she can pull off the police officer thing? I saw her steal that extra cookie at snack time.

Does Luke actually want to be a firefighter or was that just what that was left?

I wasn’t. I think I was probably standing in front of a mirror, admiring the sparkly crown on my head. Past me wasn’t as astute and observant as her present counterpart.

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I hope that at some point during the short walk to the gymnasium, I at least asked one person why they chose the hat they did. Did Michael love Westerns so much that the cowboy hat just called to him? And if so, does he own a ranch in Texas now? Or is he out in Hollywood producing Westerns with the memory of that cowboy hat still weighing heavy on his head? Has he forgotten that moment entirely and lives his life without harping on insignificant memories from childhood? Likely.

To me, being a princess meant moats and castles. It meant dragons and unicorns. It meant happily ever afters and magic. It meant that I was incredibly naive but also that my imagination was flourishing.

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In some ways, that princess crown was my writer’s hat.

One arbitrary choice made at the age of five does not define me. But, it is a part of who I am.

If you had asked me at 5, 10, 15, 20, or 23 what my life would have looked like at 25, I most certainly would not tell you something remotely close to the life I lead now. But, you would see it. It’s there. It was in that princess crown I chose. It was in every subsequent book I read. It was in every horrible essay I wrote for school and in every time I picked up a pen and unleashed my imagination.

You may see a princess crown but I see a writer’s hat.