I therefore give you my last boon: You will grow up happy, but a little poor. This will teach you the value of wealth. I will surround you with great teachers. They will be far more complex, far more interesting, and above all far sadder, than you will ever be. You will be boring compared to them, John Mallory, but their stories will inevitably end, and yours will go on. You will be just down-on-your-luck enough, just unremarkable enough, and just white enough, to grow up with enough self-confidence to achieve literally any crazy idea you come up with.
Consider the gummy bear, the employer implored to John Mallory. So many of them, even in a single bag. Who knows how many there are in the world? Where do they all come from?
John Mallory’s Uncle Jim was an ordinary man. He did not have superhuman strength or superhuman speed, he could not read minds, or shoot laser beams from his eyes, or control the weather, or commune with animals. However, lacking the superhuman abilities found in the heroes of traditional comic book fare, and unaccustomed to the dangerous living conditions that are part and parcel to urban living, his Uncle Jim was nonetheless the most heroic individual he ever had the honor of knowing.
He knew he was a smart boy for his age, and his mother always told him so. She would say “You’re a very smart boy, you know,” or he would say, “You know, I’m pretty smart for my age, don’t you think?” and she would agree, but then she would add a small caveat to that statement: “You’re smart for any age.”