I tootled off to the doc, yesterday, to get an anti-pneumonia jab. While I was there I happened to mention the arthritis in my wrist was giving me gip (actually, it’s driving me bonkers!) and asked if he had any suggestions. The usual stuff wasn’t helping much. He did a bit of “hmmm”; told me to move it this way and that; heard me moan; pushed my thumb; heard me yelp, and then said, “That’s tendinitis.” Blinking heck. I’ll just add it to the list, shall I? I feel as though my warranty’s run out and now, slowly but surely, all my bits and pieces are breaking down, rusting out, falling off or going “bzzz pfffft” and emitting puffs of smoke.
We used to own an upright freezer. The day after the warranty ran out the darn thing broke down. The day after! Do you think I could get the bloke to honour the warranty? Hahhaaaaaa haa. I know that technically he was in the right to refuse to help but I reckon, morally, he had an obligation. After all, he didn’t deliver it until two days after the warranty had started. Jeff had given up his job to go back to study and at that stage I’d only got a little bit of part-time work. Money was limited. It was a deeply frustrating situation. When I heard I had one more physical complaint, I got that same frustrated – arrrrgggghhhhhhhhh – feeling.
Last night, while channel-surfing, I watched a few minutes of the movie Daredevil. The gorgeous Ben Affleck plays a “super-hero” who is blind. To compensate for his lack of sight, he has developed super-hearing. This is then his great strength, as well as his weakness. (The villain overwhelms him with noise.) An interesting concept. I found myself wondering about other characters who have physical disabilities. Of course the first one to spring to mind is the fabulous Lincoln Rhyme: Jeffrey Deaver’s super-intelligent, quadriplegic detective. His physical condition forces him to focus his mind, but at the same time leaves him vulnerable, both to outside enemies (eg in The Bone Collector) and to his own physical frailty. Simply brilliant stuff.
Beginner-writers are often counselled to give their heros a flaw. (Eg: Inspector Rebus’s problem with alcohol.) People relate better to characters that aren’t perfect. However, not many consider giving them a serious physical problem. (Bravo Mr Deaver!) I tried to think of some more. Hellboy is handicapped by being red, with a sort of hammer for a hand, and weird horns growing out of his head, but I don’t count him. He’s just a bit too “alien” to fit the subset I’m considering.
I wonder why no one has thought of a character with tendinitis, arthritis, collapsed discs, asthma, lymphoedema and cancer? Oh wait; I know why. They’d be too decrepit to achieve much other than writing stern letters, thinking wild thoughts and wheezing. Then again, I could definitely see Clint Eastwood pulling it off. Hmmm…food for thought.
I hope your warranty is still intact. Make the most of it. If it isn’t; perhaps you could use the rusty, creaky bits as inspiration. Make yourself a cape and limp out into the world to make it a better place.