I had sworn off dating as my New Year’s resolution. Between my busy day job at the advertising agency and my secret side hustle that was becoming harder and harder to keep secret, I just didn’t have the time or patience for the snake pit of dating apps. My decade-long relationship ended last summer, and at 45, I wasn’t old, but I wasn’t young anymore, either. Out of practice and wanting something more than a one-night stand, I felt like re-entering the city’s dating scene was the romantic equivalent of a polar bear plunge. The more I tried to adapt to the culture of swiping, sexting, unmatching, and ghosting, the older, less relevant, and less desirable I felt. 

And then I met Frank. The attraction was instantaneous; I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt sparks upon meeting a guy. Frank had recently transferred from his accounting firm’s HQ in Boston to run a field office in the same building as my ad agency. About the same age as me, he radiated the refreshing confidence of someone who no longer needed to prove himself. He cut an impressive figure in a suit and tie, too. Just a whisper taller than my six feet, Frank had the build of an ex-college athlete who’d gotten quite comfortable in the C-suite. The way his belly pushed against his belt buckle, making it rest atop the ample bulge in his slacks, drove me wild. His thick, chestnut hair had more than a touch of gray at the temples, and while he was cleanshaven when I first met him, he’d let his salt-and-pepper beard grow in, much to my delight. Frank was a welcome change from the guys who cluttered up all the dating apps and prowled the back rooms at Buddies, our city’s local bear bar. Mature, easygoing, and drop-dead sexy, he was just my type.  

Every time we crossed paths in the elevator or at the vending machines between our office suites, I tried to pick up on any clues that he might be, first, gay and, second, interested in me. After a couple months of awkward flirting, I shot my shot, and to my surprise, Frank accepted my offer of a date. The night before our planned meeting at Buzzwords, the trendy coffee shop near the university, my friend Nik came over to help me decide what to wear and offer his trademark snarky moral support.  

“What do you think?” I asked, doing a slow turn to show off my favorite charcoal gray suit.  

“It’s a bit formal,” Nik said. “You’re going on a coffee date, not a job interview.”  

I sucked in my gut, temporarily giving myself the appearance of a flat stomach, and then let it protrude back out again. I had embraced my bear body years ago and liked how I looked, but the way the tip of my necktie rested a couple inches above my belt still made me self conscious. I turned my collar up and retied the tie, opting for a Windsor knot instead of a four-in-hand this time.  

“This is what guys like me wear on a first date,” I said. “Back in my day, dressing up for a date was expected.”  

“Yeah,” Nik said, sounding unconvinced. “But you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard.”  

I slid the knot of my necktie into position just below my Adam’s apple and looked down at my belly. I managed to get the tip closer to my belt buckle. Nik smirked and looked at me askance. He was only about ten years my junior, but he acted younger than his years, whereas I acted older than mine. It was a wonder we managed to become such good friends, especially since last year’s inexplicable event changed my life and saddled me with my hard-to-keep secret.  

“Have you told him yet?” Nik asked, practically reading my mind.  

“Of course I haven’t.” Satisfied with my planned outfit, I shed my suit jacket and returned it to its hanger. “I learned my lesson after Jason dumped me.”  

“Jason was stupid,” Nik said. “Only an idiot would pass up the opportunity to date a real-life superhero.”  

I loosened my tie, taking care to preserve the knot I had needed three tries to perfect, and unbuttoned my shirt. “I’m not a superhero.” 

Nik pointed at the shiny electric blue suit peeking through my open dress shirt. “Mike, seriously? You want to run that by me again?” he asked, barely able to contain his laughter.  

My hands brushed against the smooth fabric of my skintight Lycra suit as I undressed. I felt the power surge through my body and concentrate in my hands. I had to be careful not to use it on Nik. As much as I might have wanted to, I had a vested interest in restraining those supernatural urges. Besides my ex, Nik was the only person who knew my secret identity. For all his faults, he had proven himself a loyal and worthy confidant.  

“I’m not a superhero,” I repeated, aware of the irony of my appearance but refusing to acknowledge it. “I’m just a guy with special abilities who tries his best to serve his community.”  

Nik wasn’t listening. He’d spent the last thirty seconds scrolling through his phone and simply waited for me to stop talking so he could confront me with evidence. “Three Cities Gazette: ‘Metro crime rates down 90% from last year.’ Alternative Weekly: ‘City Hall cancels annual clean-up event, citing lack of litter.’ Northside Community Bulletin: Food bank donations, volunteers reach all-time high.’ Need I go on?”  

“That won’t be necessary,” I said. I tried discreetly to adjust my package, but there’s no way to be discreet when you’re wearing skintight spandex, so I turned around to protect my modesty.  

“Fred’s a newcomer. A transplant. I think he’d be excited to date the guy responsible for turning this city around and making it a nice place to live again.”  

“His name is Frank,” I said as I stepped into a pair of tracksuit pants. “And I haven’t done anything. I don’t want any of the credit. I just want things to be normal.”  

“Whatever,” Nik said. “You know your adoring fans at Metro Today are on a mission to unmask you. They’re tired of referring to you as ‘the unidentified male with suspected supernatural abilities.’ They’re offering a $10,000 reward to the first Three Cities citizen who can confirm your identity.”  

The playful glint in Nik’s eye betrayed his implicit threat, but my powers revved through my body regardless. I couldn’t let anything jeopardize my secret. So far, Metro Today was the only local publication that took an interest in me. The rest were happy to give the credit for the changes around town to their friends in the police department and city hall. I’d had a few close scrapes with some MT journalists, but thankfully, my powers kept me out of trouble; all they got were a few blurry photos of a middle-aged guy in a goofy suit.  

“That won’t happen,” I said. “I won’t allow it.” I puffed my chest out to support my statement, but my chunky body and the sweat marks in my suit’s armpits didn’t inspire confidence.  

“In the meantime,” Nik said, his trademark smirk on full display, “do you know what Metro has decided to start calling you? DadMan.”  

Fuck. DadMan. I was DadMan. 

Frank, the hunky, handsome, successful account exec, had a coffee date with DadMan tomorrow morning. 

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