You’re Standing In A Field: The Importance Of The Cowlick To Superman’s Visual Identity

You’re Standing In A Field: The Importance Of The Cowlick To Superman’s Visual Identity

Many people think the key to Superman’s secret identity is his glasses. Actually, it’s his cowlick. Because he goes the extra mile by actually having a cow lick his hair. Obviously, he can’t have a real cow do the licking, because that would be unseemly. He’s Superman, for chrissake, not Static Shock or The Rocketeer. He can afford to pay someone to put on a cow suit, and recreate a pastoral cow-licking scenario. Patch of grass, salt lick, a nearby defaced billboard reading EAT MOR CHIKIN—the whole nine yards.

Superman pours salt in his hair, and says, “Listen, cow. I want you to really lick the hell out of my hair. Nobody can know that I’m Superman. I’m going to need to borrow your glasses, too.” Then he pours salt in his red underwear and says, “I’m going to need a cowlick down there, too. You can never be too careful.”

I think you should do it, nearsighted person in a cow costume. Or is it farsighted? I can never remember the difference. I’m just saying, I don’t think anything better is coming along. What are your prospects? What do you have going on? You’re standing in a field, licking an alien’s head for money.

Though you should probably make him prove he’s Superman before you lick his balls, and not just a guy in a costume from Party City. Good advice for anyone, really. Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys, and don’t let them lick a fraudulent Superman’s balls. I think that was the original draft of the song.

What I’m getting at is, Superman’s cowlick is just as important to his visual identity as his long red cape. What does Superman do, when he finds himself in a situation that would require a normal, non-cape-wearing person to begin to wear a cape? For example, going to the opera, or becoming a Phantom of that same opera. It seems like when you start with a base level of wearing a cape, there aren’t a lot of places left for you to go in terms of your cape options. I think that he should start smaller, with a half-cape or better yet a T-shirt tied in a knot, so it becomes a belly shirt.

Superman, of course, is famous for being stronger than a locomotive. Are locomotives sleeping on the job? I feel like we can trust the locomotive to perform the task it is built for. There’s no need to make the locomotive look weak by comparison, Superman. The whole reason we put the locomotive together was to take on the physical burdens that men and horses aren’t able to shoulder. Not to give us a benchmark, like, we shouldn’t be jealous of locomotives. We shouldn’t be looking at them, seething. “Oof. I wish I was stronger than you, locomotive. You think you’re so great. With your steam and your belly full of coal and your cowcatcher on the front.”

Which, look out, person in the cow suit from earlier in this essay. If you’re leaving your job as Superman’s hair (and balls?) licker, and you’re thinking of taking the train, I’d take the cow suit off before you leave “the office” in case the locomotive gets any ideas about catching you. Now it seems like I don’t trust the locomotive after all. Maybe we do need someone to beat those sneaky trains.

Should we let down our emotional guard, and put our faith in trains, and in all the boxcars and cabooses we meet in the rail yard? That was what was implied in the 1988 Kylie Minogue song “The Loco-Motion”, right? That we should trust locomotives implicitly, with our careers and secrets?

And finally, you have Superman’s flashy red boots. His “bitch boots” as he calls them, privately in his own mind. Actually, I can’t verify that. I don’t know how Superman thinks or feels about his boots. You’ll have to ask the folks at DC Comics. And while you’re asking them boot questions, will you ask if it’s the sass and attitude of the boots themselves, or is it the innate ride-or-die-bitchiness of the wearer that elevates your average pair of boots to “bitch boots” status?

They’ll probably tell you that it was this same question that led to the destruction of Krypton. Sorry about your home planet, Superman. But at least you have your boots. And a cape. And a cowlick. And a receipt from Party City. It’s probably for confetti or something. I trust you, Superman. Like I trust the locomotive that you are stronger than. But I’m not licking your balls.