Every hero has a fatal flaw—a weakness or vulnerability that can lead to their ultimate demise. Achilles, the greatest warrior of the Trojan Wars, was killed when an arrow struck his heel. Superman’s “Achilles’ Heel,” as Lex Luthor learned, is Kryptonite.
Bethany’s sole weakness appears to be her inability to whistle. That’s not entirely true. She can whistle, but at a pitch that’s so high only canines can hear it. While this flaw hardly seems fatal, it does prove that nobody’s perfect—and that my wife is unintentionally hilarious.
I, on the other hand, am cursed with many, many fatal flaws. Not that I’m necessarily a hero, mind you. I use the term “hero” interchangeably with “protagonist.” I am, after all, the main character in the odd, cringe-worthy, and ridiculous tale that is my life’s story. Heroic? Not so much. Flawed? You betcha!
As a young man, my Achilles’ Heel was a complete and utter lack of self-discipline. I was an honor roll student, a talented musician, and a decent baseball player in my youth, but my disdain for studying, practice, and for pushing myself to become better eventually led to diminishing results and a loss of interest in those areas of my life that were once so important to me.
In college, my Kryptonite was an addiction to alcohol and other reckless, self-destructive behaviors. I made a lot of stupid, terrible, and unsafe choices that I hope my children will never dream of making. Quite often, I have sudden realizations of how lucky I am to still be alive. For the longest time, I didn’t feel like I deserved to be.
Now that I’m creeping up on six months of sobriety, I feel like a new man. I’ve turned my back on those fatal flaws that were preventing me from being the hero my kids (and my wife, friends, and students) deserve. I always knew that somewhere, stumbling around in the darkness all those years, there was a good person trying to make his way back to the light. That warm, positive light feels mighty good, my friends. Mighty good.
I still have some serious flaws—and some not so serious—that I struggle with every day. I am a creature of habit and one who becomes easily addicted to new things. Lately one such addiction has been losing weight. I’ve lost 33 pounds since January, and now I want to put some weight back on in the form of muscle. I’m not worried about it though; soon I’ll probably be addicted to protein shakes and exercise. I’ll become a musclebound freak in no time. I’ll finally look good in my superhero tights!
My addiction to alcohol has been replaced by a renewed obsession with automobiles. You would assume that buying a 1957 Chevy Bel Air and a 1971 Chevy C10 pickup in the months since sobering up would be enough to satisfy me, but it is not. Collecting cars is probably my oldest addiction, dating back to when I was a little boy. I couldn’t get enough Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars when I was a kid. I treasured them all and somehow managed to hang on to them (hundreds of them) to this very day.
But as I’ve gotten bigger, so have the cars I like to collect. It’s been said that the difference between men and boys is the size of their toys, and I would not argue with that statement. Get me around a cool, old hotrod and watch me transform into a big, old kid. Just last week I went to three car shows/cruise-ins. I saw all kinds of classic cars and trucks, and I met all kinds of interesting people.
Yes I do have an addictive personality, but in the case of my rekindled interest in classic automobiles and car culture, I finally have an addiction that I can proudly share with my family and friends. My new/old addiction makes me happy, which seems to make my family happy, too. It’s got to be a lot more enjoyable for them to listen to me go on and on about a jalopy I want to park in the driveway than it was to watch me drink myself to sleep in my recliner every night.
I spent the better part of Sunday making an epic, five-hour round trip to look at an old truck for sale in Kansas—a hero’s quest if you will. I went with a good friend, and although we came back with an empty car trailer, we weren’t too disappointed. We’d had a fantastic five-hour conversation (I talk a lot—what’s your superpower?) about cars, trucks, families, addiction, healthy eating, and on and on and on. It was a great way for two dads to spend Father’s Day.
Sometimes in life you’ll come home with an empty trailer, and that’s okay—as long as your heart is full.