Super Powers for the Rest of Us

[‘Super Powers,’ by Mark Stivers. Click to view the full set of six.]

Given a choice, I think the caption below my portrait — in ten words or less — would say something like writes brilliant stories one hour at a time*. (My Kryptonite: the Internet.)



* Edit to add: Just to make it plain — this is not a super power I have. (The operative words above: given a choice.) God, no. It’s a super power I’d love to have — a super power I’d have if I were my ideal superhero.

Edit to add, 2: Now that I’ve read all these other great ideas, I think maybe the super power I already have is something like: can spot important trends with 20/20 hindsight.

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  1. My kryptonite? Oh man.

    Let’s see. Red Kryptonite is the ‘Net, for sure. Green is food. Black might be TV.

    Lots of Kryptonite ’round here. Thank goodness I’m not Superman.

  2. Darc: …and your super power???

    I didn’t even know Kryptonite came in three different colors. Hope this won’t jeopardize my membership in the Pop Culture Society.

  3. I always thought my superpower would be Looks Confused but Gets it most of the time. Is that a super power? Or just middle age??

  4. The superpower I would love to have is “Never forgets a face or a name.” Alas, so not true. Like you, my kryptonite would be the Internet.

  5. A favourite Peanuts cartoon had Snoopy reclining, as so often, along the ridge of his kennel roof. Suddenly he sits bolt upright, anxious, alert: he erects one of his big floppy ears, angles it into the wind. And he says to himself, “Sometimes I wish I didn’t have this terrible power! Somewhere, I’m not sure where, but somewhere, I can hear a pack of chocolate chip cookies being opened.”

    I suppose mine might be: Everybody’s Second Best Friend

  6. I suppose another might be:

    Knows – or foresees – the punchline of every joke he is told; but tactfully conceals this, and feigns appropriate surprise and amusement.

  7. Sometimes these ‘talents’ are more of a curse – like The Man With X-Ray Eyes.

  8. Did you by any chance listen to this?

    I like the scene in Stranger than Fiction when Harold Crick talk about a super power with his friend at the dinner table. He tried to tell him his super power is that he is good at math. ha!

    My super power? I’m not sure but it would have to be fueled by coffee.

  9. [In the actual spirit of the cartoon, and all these comments, I’ve suggested a real super power I’ve already got, in the “Edit to add, 2” note, above.]

    cynth: You may think you’re confused, but that you made it to middle age in the first place demonstrates some basic clear-headedness!

    Tessa: The worst moments for me are at work, when I pass someone in the hall whose name I definitely know — but when I say something like “‘Morning, [Name]” my mouth starts to form the name of someone else… someone else whose name sounds nothing at all like [Name]. This almost impossible to recover from gracefully: you can’t stretch your mouth and slur the syllables enough to convert (say) Bill into Harry. It’s like compounding the brain fart with mealy-mouthedness.

    Froog: Once one gets going on the “assuming I already do something excellently, even if it’s something mundane/impractical, that’s all I need to claim it as a super power” train, it’s kind of difficult to pull into a station and stop, eh?

    Haven’t seen that Ray Milland flick in years. The ending completely unhinged me when I saw it. (Or, uh, when I didn’t see it, if you follow.)

    marta: No, I wasn’t familiar with that episode of This American Life.

    (And let me say, that you were able to make a connection with a radio program which aired 9-1/2 years ago makes me think: I have no idea how this person’s mind is organized. Right there’s a super power for you.)

    That’s a great movie. You mentioning that scene reminds me of a stray Seinfeld moment, with Jerry and George at a table in the diner:

    JERRY: I think Superman probably has a very good sense of humor.
    GEORGE: I never heard him say anything really funny.
    JERRY: But it’s common sense. He’s got super strength, super speed… I’m sure he’s got super humor.
    GEORGE: You would think that, but either you’re born with a sense of humor, or you’re not. It’s not going to change even if you go from the red sun of Krypton all the way to the yellow sun of the Earth.
    JERRY: Why? Why would that one area of his mind not be affected by the yellow sun of Earth?
    GEORGE: I don’t know but he ain’t funny.

  10. @John – hahaha. No. That episode aired again this last weekend, otherwise I might not have recalled it. I might have. You never know with me. But I would’ve thought I heard it last year instead.

    I agree with George, too.

    Oh, there is that other episode of This American Life where Jonathan Goldstein tells the story of trying to date Lois Lane after she breaks up with Superman.

    I love Jonathan Goldstein!

  11. marta: I’m both relieved and a little let down that your memory isn’t as prodigious as I’d imagined!

    That Jonathan Goldstein piece reminds me a little of something which might have been written by David Sedaris.

  12. I still say I want my superpower to be invisibility, because I love to people-watch, yet I know staring is rude.

    Especially modern teens. Lordy, if I ever find myself in a mall, I love to listen to them.

  13. Jules: You know what I’ve found to be almost as good as invisibility?* Wearing a pair of sophisticated and visible hearing aids. People — including teens — immediately assume you can’t hear anything at all. (If they can’t see the aids, otoh, you’re just another “normal” person around whom they need to be circumspect.)

    *Er, not that I have any experience with invisibility. At least, none that I’d ever admit to. :)

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