Nobody understood why, among all the wide spectrum of neuroses and complexes at his disposal, Michael Pea would have chosen precisely the superiority complex. He had no attribute that legitimately granted him the right to believe himself superior to others. He had all the defects that a human being can have and even some other. He was a liar, selfish, quarrelsome, cowardly (How can one be cowardly and quarrelsome at the same time? You had to know Pea to find out), lazy, stupid … Well, why list them all? I have already said that there was no defect that he didn’t have. And even those defects that can have a positive side, such as ambition for example, he lacked that side. That a guy like that had a superiority complex was something that didn’t fit in anybody’s head. Hence, when the brilliant psychoanalyst Edith Jacobson met Mr. Pea, she considered him a phenomenon worthy of study. Mrs. Jacobson had recently moved to Brooklyn with her family and Mr. Pea lived in the house next door. She did not need much time to notice this amazing anomaly of the human psyche. So within a few weeks she had already invited Mr. Pea to visit the headquarters of the New York Psychoanalytic Society.
When the members of this Society met Mr. Pea, they were so stunned that Donald, the janitor, was forced to slap each of them to get them out of their stupefaction. As soon as they left it, they set to work. They made Pea take a vacation (which all the employees of the insurance company where he worked appreciated), and they paid him a salary to attend a daily session of psychoanalysis. Since it was not an ordinary psychoanalysis but rather a study on the personality of an individual, he was not assigned a particular psychoanalyst, but every day he laid down in the couch of a different psychoanalyst, since everyone in the Society wanted to analyze him, in the same way that any marine biologist would have wanted to investigate a whale that wandered through the African savanna.
At the end of each day, the members of the Society used to meet in the parlour to discuss their progress with Mr. Pea and together try to unravel this mystery. Mrs. Jacobson had not been able to go back further from his memories of the previous day because Mr. Pea invariably fell asleep. The others had the same problem. Karpas suggested that they replace the couch with a fakir’s bed of spikes. Hoch followed a strategy consisting of pouncing on him from time to time and exclaiming “Buuuuuu” with wide eyes and threatening expression. Edward Scripture followed a technique used by Zen masters to prevent his disciples from falling asleep during meditation: to give him a blow with a hazel branch. Thanks to the progressive implementation of these and other similar techniques (such as throwing a bucket of water over his head every time he yawned), they all managed to get Pea back in his memories until the fateful day when a boy named Freddy Koslovsky had denounced him to his father for having stolen his tricycle. That earned him a severe reprimand from his parents, who not only forced him to return the tricycle but punished him with the prohibition of wallowing in the mud, which was one of his favorite pastimes. Apparently, that traumatized him. In fact, on reaching majority he became independent of his parents only to be able to wallow in the mud again. Mrs. Jacobson confirmed that the back of his house overlooked a stream on whose muddy banks he used to wallow with great delight. In view of this unusual behavior in a man of his age, Tannenbaum raised the possibility that his condition was a psychosis instead of a neurosis. But aside from the mentioned eccentricity, there was nothing in his life to suggest that he was crazy.
What was more than evident was how entrenched his superiority complex was in him. He thought he was better than everyone and looked down at everyone. He considered himself a genius of the stature of Leonardo Da Vinci despite not knowing how to close the jars with screw caps. He also believed himself a kind of Adonis even though his body took almost a minute longer than his belly to cross the street. He was proud of his thick head of hair that he constantly pulled out of his bald head to show it to the people. In short, the point being that he considered himself a sort of superman. And in fact, years later, when Superman comics became popular, Mr. Pea demanded an astronomical sum to the publisher for having been inspired by his person without his permission when creating the character. Anyway, I think it was the president and founder of the NYSP, Abraham A. Brill, who hit the spot when he pointed out the possibility that Mr. Pea did not really have any complex. “Quite simply (he said), he is an imbecile.”