LEWISTON — Like Clark Kent removing his glasses or Bruce Banner turning green, Rick Benedict’s voice dropped
an octave and his chest inflated when his alter ego took over.

Gone was the mild-mannered maintenance guy. Gone was the paunchy 47-year-old.

“Hello, citizens!” rang a voice among the halls with handrails. “It is I, Marshwood Man.”

He appeared wearing white work gloves, black Spandex and a shamrock-green shirt emblazoned with “MM” on the chest. He wore a Lone Ranger-style mask beneath a paper fedora. A green cape completed the superhero ensemble.

Nurses at their stations smiled. An elderly man twisted in his easy chair to see where the voice came from. A woman in a wheelchair beamed.

“How can Marshwood Man help you out?” the hero asked the woman, who simply smiled back.

Creating smiles at Marshwood Nursing Care Center is his superpower.

“It’s a serious business here,” said Rachel Remillard, a licensed practical nurse at the Lewiston home. “It’s not always the most fun. But he’s uplifting. He changes the mood.”

On Tuesday morning, the hero stood by as a line of men and women passed him on their way to an exercise class. He agreed to go along.

“Don’t forget: Physical therapy is Marshwood Man’s middle name!” he said.

A couple of minutes later, he stood before the group as a therapist began to lead them in simple hand and arm exercises. Little Richard played in the background, and Marshwood Man twisted in his black, slip-on shoes.

He even flexed a bit, showing off his arms.

“Don’t get excited, ladies,” he warned. Later, he admitted to getting his Spandex pinched now and again.

“It’s all in fun,” he said, as Rick Benedict of Lewiston.

A regular performer in productions at East Auburn Baptist Church, Benedict began working at Marshwood in February. He soon began asking if he could do something to entertain the residents.

He invented Marshwood Man.

A superhero seemed natural, figuring that an idealized persona could encourage folks and his antics and costume could get laughs.

The act took time to polish. Marshwood Man’s first costume included a terrycloth mask and a shower curtain for a cape. Co-workers offered to print up a T-shirt and get him a proper cape.

The change from maintenance man to superhero takes five minutes, less if there’s a handy telephone booth.

“Verizon took all of my telephone booths,” Marshwood Man complained in a rare, dark moment. Mostly, he is an optimistic guy.

“He does not pollute, litter or use foul language,” he said, referring to himself with heroic bluster.

Nurse Remillard had her own definition for an elderly woman wearing an expression that seemed to ask, “Who was that masked man?”

“He’s here to add spice to your life,” Remillard said.

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