This is a hard post for me to make, and I’ve been avoiding doing so simply because I’m still trying to process everything that has transpired over the past handful of days.
On Saturday evening, my good friend Dale Pople took his own life. I, like many of his friends and family, was shocked and saddened by the news. I was especially surprised as it was only two days since I last spoke with him.
A week ago today, I called Dale to catch up and see how he was doing. He had just announced on Facebook that he was going through an interesting and difficult change in his life, and I, feeling concerned, wanted to see how he was holding up.
He actually seemed to be in high spirits. He framed his trial as simply a “new beginning”, talking about his plans to get a new home, start a new job, and get back out there doing charitable works as “Old Superhero”.
You see, Dale was a Real Life Superhero (or RLSH, for short), an individual belonging to a subculture of people who create original superhero gimmicks and identities to do good works in their communities through various charitable means.
Many of you already have heard of the RLSH community because of my involvement with it over the years. But what many of you don’t know is that Dale was a major driving force in my growth and development, not just with my path as a costumed activist, but also with my career and personal life.
When I was homeless and couch surfing in California, Dale sent me money so I could get my affairs in order and move back home to Louisiana. A year later, while on a road trip, he passed through town and got lunch with me. I attempted to hand him the money I owed him. He simply held his hand up and said, “No need. Pay it forward.”
Years later, I moved to Florida for a new job. Dale called me up and asked how I was liking my new set up. “It’s fine.” “Well, I know you’re an industry guy like me. How would you like to work at Ion Television? There may be a spot opening up here.” Of course, I said yes to the idea, but six years of constant broken promises in Los Angeles taught me to be CAUTIOUSLY optimistic.
A year after that, a day before my 33rd birthday, my father died right in front of me. A month after that, my job let me go due to budget cuts. At this point, I was confident that my life was going nowhere, and hopelessness set in. Then, out of nowhere, Dale calls me up and states, “I told my bosses about you. They want to interview you.”
Next thing I know, I have a job in master control at Ion Television, working right alongside Dale himself. He was a blast to work with, and I was introduced to many ridiculous forms of pop culture, tv, and movies that I was not privy to, such as the glorious 80’s slasher film “Chopping Mall” (look it up as it is DELIGHTFUL).
A few months later, I needed to head back to Louisiana to finish the paperwork on finally inheriting my late father’s car, which had tremendous sentimental value to me. Unfortunately, my then-current car broke down beyond repair, and I did not have a credit card to rent a car to drive to Louisiana.
Dale simply went to Enterprise with me and rented a car on my behalf. I paid him back within a month, and I’m sure he thought nothing of it, but that act of kindness meant the world to me.
Since then, I moved into a decent house in a lovely city that I truly feel I can call home, I’ve adopted the best dog anyone could want, I’ve made a new best friend that I’d punch a nazi for, I’ve gotten back into the RLSH game with a new outlook and determination, and I’ve fallen in love with the woman I plan to marry.
None of these wonderful things would have happened had it not been for Dale coming in to save the day, simply because he cared.
Dale has impacted more lives than I can count. He was THE ultimate Real Life Superhero. To everyone in this weird subculture, he was our SUPERMAN.
And I guess that’s what makes his passing extra hard. That life and depression was able to finally get the best of him breaks my heart, because he helped in almost every major battle with depression I had.
The man was my friend and my hero. I’ll never forget him, and I’ll always aspire to bring about the same level of kindness to others that he would afford me.
I’m paraphrasing here, but Dale once said something to me in regards to many RLSHs who always dress in grim and dark color schemes (something that drove him nuts), but can also be applied to one’s outlook on life:
“Try adding a little more color. It goes a long way.”
Farewell, Old Superhero. You know what to do.