When I was a boy, I had a simple career plan: To become a superhero.
Other boys wanted to be Rod Carew or Fran Tarkington, but I wanted to fight crime by night from a secret lair.
Some of the earliest pictures of me have me wearing a Batman mask.
I made my mother safety-pin bath towels around my neck for capes — and let me wear them to the grocery store. When I was a little older, I would climb up on the garage and leap, convinced that, like Superman, I could fly.
Somewhere along the line, I let go of that dream, along with my dreams of becoming rich.
I can’t help but wonder, though, whether my decision to become a journalist had something to do with the fact that Clark Kent, Peter Parker and Britt Reid — better known as Superman, Spider-Man and the Green Hornet — were newspaper men.
But there is a little-known fact that I have kept secret until know. Extreme fans of Superman who religiously watched the WB television show “Smallville” might even know this. “I” used to live in Metropolis and hung out with Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
Honest! You can find proof in the DC Comics online database at http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Jeff_Hage_(Smallville). And just like in real life, “I” was in the newspaper business.
In season eight of Smallville, Jeff Hage shows up as an intern at the Daily Planet, the newspaper of Metropolis, the city that Superman often protects from the evils of the universe. “I” was later elevated from intern to cub reporter.
“My” first assignment was an important one: “I” brought Lois Lane her dry cleaning and her morning coffee.
Now if you know me at all, you know I like a doughnut from a good bakery in the morning, which is what makes “my” second appearance in Smallville so believable.
In season nine, “I” was sitting in the cafeteria at the Daily Planet and took the last maple doughnut. The problem is, Lois Lane wanted that doughnut, too.
Clark Kent, who was temporarily given the ability of telepathy, heard Lois’ thought, supersped across the room, and took that doughnut from “me” and gave it to Lois. Can you believe Superman would do that to a nice guy like me?
Later in the season, “I” had what may have been my best role. That’s the night Lois Lane became jealous of a magician-turned villian named Zatanna Zatara after Clark Kent locked lips with Zatanna. Lois placed a big ol’ kiss on “my” cheek to get back at Clark. Could there have been a better night than that?
Now how did a reporter from Metropolis land in Princeton?
The only thing I can think of is that when Chris Schafer left the Union-Eagle 2 1/2 years ago for New York, the ECM north general manager was so enamored by the fact that he could land a reporter who had worked with Lois Lane and Clark Kent at the Daily Planet that he had no choice but to hire me.
Sadly, I can’t leap tall buildings in bound like Superman, I don’t say to my trusty sidekick, “To the Bat Cave, Joel,” or track down the bad guys of Princeton with my Spidey Sense.
But I do bring Princeton the news and photos of this community on a daily and weekly basis — and at the end of the day, that’s a pretty awesome superpower, too.
Jeff Hage is the editor of the Princeton Union-Eagle, Mille Lacs County Times, Town & Country and My Generation. He is also a member of the ECM Publishers Inc. Editorial Board. Reach him by email at [email protected] or by phone at 763-389-1222.