Ask just about anyone, “If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?” and 80% of respondents will tell you that they would either choose to turn invisible at will or would choose to be able to fly. That’s an official invented statistic, and I agree that either of those abilities would be very cool. Especially the invisibility, because depending on how it technically worked, there’s a good chance that you’d have a great excuse to walk around naked in public. Depending on respondents’ current or prospective lines of work, I imagine that there would also be a few who would prefer bulletproofing and/or superstrength.
There are plenty of people running around the pages of comic books in spandex who can do all of those things, though. I have a couple of ideas for superpowers I might be tempted to choose.
Five-Seconds-Ago Man. This one has always been my own first choice. I have a button on my digital cable remote that is amazing – hitting it rewinds the show you’re watching by either five or nine seconds (I’m not sure). Useful for quickly reviewing that poignant line in a movie that you couldn’t hear because the garbage man dropped a box of glass bottles outside your window, or reviewing the phone number at the end of a commercial. In my case, I seem to be late to tune in to the fact that I should be tuned in, a lot of the time. I can’t tell you how frequently I’m listening to the radio and realize that I just heard an ad for something that matters to me — a band I like is coming to some venue, there’s an organization sponsoring a charity I care about, there’s an effective new “enhancement” product on the market, etc. — and I wasn’t listening carefully enough. If I could just go back nine seconds in time! I make Alison start her sentences over because I’m eight words behind, having gotten lost in my thoughts or distracted by an interesting spot on the wall. I’d seem a lot less Rain Man and more with it with even that tiny influence over time. I’m just asking for a second chance at the things that are constantly flying at and past my eyes and ears.
Guy-in-the-Know Guy. Put your own burning curiosity aside for a moment, wouldn’t it be awesome to be the person in every crowd that knew what everyone else was speculating at? There are police on the scene and everyone is standing around wondering whether that’s a good idea, and you just walk up and say, “Oh, Old Miss Pants had a bit of angina in apartment 9C.” Those rumors at work about the downsizing? You could set people’s minds at ease, or warn your friends. Urban legends? Snopes is a thing of the past. You’d be the complete go-to for everyone who needed a bit of knowledge. Indispensible, my friends.
The Cocoa Midas. I admit, this one’s for the ladies. Not fancy — I’d like to be able to turn other kinds of food into chocolate. I don’t even eat much in the way of sweets, but you can’t tell me that the average person wouldn’t rather have brussel sprouts into truffles, than even water into wine. I’m not asking for that latter power; let’s not get hit with lightning goofing around on a blog.
Forget-Me Dude. The part of this one that amuses me is that I thought of it earlier, and it took a herculean effort to remember it. How about being able to make people forget any one thing? Messed up your relationship with thoughtless remark? ZAP! Forgotten, forgiven. Robbed a bank and have a circle of police officers around you with guns drawn? ZAP! Suddenly you’re the doughnut delivery guy and off the hook. Playing chess with you kid and see the dawn of comprehension steal over his face? ZAP! He doesn’t remember that killer move anymore. Yes I realize that last one is mean and competitive, but ask my father how it feels to lose to your kids at chess. Basically, I’d like to be able to tell people, “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be fantastically strong and powerful … naturally, I’m pretending I’m not already, to establish empathy with my audience. It would be great to be the Man of Steel or the Dark Knight. I’m just saying, it’s a modern world and a little imagination would make our pantheon of superheroes a hell of a lot more fun.