From the Archive: Terry Trowbridge (CAROUSEL 31)
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen
Puberty is the moment a man becomes beautiful.
He wakes up stronger than he was when he fell asleep
if he bothered to sleep at all.
With a lightning-fast attention to details
and muscles that never tire or fail to promise victory,
when every setback is temporary, every thought is assured
by a galvanized body that conforms to the shape of growing, hardening manhood.
Except for Jimmy Olsen.
If he had a psychoanalyst, the verdict would be
boring, flat, a clinical case of the sidekicks.
Superman promises the children who read comic books
that there is an absolute good as powerfully uncompromising
as Dad. But Superman is hell for a teenager.
Jimmy adored Superman’s body instead of his own,
loved Superman’s quickness instead of his own,
accepted Superman’s promise of muscle and endless winning.
He learned about women through photographing heroes with Lana Lang and Lois Lane
and learned about men by taking orders from Clark Kent and Perry White.
James Olsen, the man without puberty,
his power siphoned away by his alien pal
who holds down earthlings in childhood
until they learn to ignore him.
Jimmy’s job is the gelded minion of a man’s greatest nemesis:
to photograph the news so we never forget the big S.