Monday, February 28, 2011



There's a classic question that's gets asked by people whose desire to ask clever questions outstrips their ability to think of clever questions: Which superpower would you rather have, invisiblity or the power to fly?

Your answer to the question allows those people, whose desire to put people into boxes oustrips their ability to construct an adequate number of irregularly shaped boxes, to classify you as a either as creepy person eager to prey upon the weaknesses of others, or maybe gay.  I'm not actually sure of the psychology behind that part, but my desire to continue typing words outstrips my ability to think complex thoughts today.  Anyway, my point is that there's a much better question to ask during the conversational lull between "What do you do for a living?" and "Hold my drink for a sec so I can show you my rash."

The question is: What superpowers do you have?

Not which ones do you want, but which ones do you currently possess?  I don't mean to get all self-esteemy on you, but I firmly believe that (almost) all of us have some things that we do at a nearly supernatural level.

Here are my superpowers:

  • Crossing the Street:  I am eerily good at crossing the street.  While the rest of you are standing idly on the sidewalk, waiting for your color-coded idiot light to instruct you when it's safe to begin moving your legs again, I am already halfway down the block planning my assault on the next intersection.  I cross the streets efficiently, safely, deftly, politely, and sometimes diagonally.  I synthesize data from traffic light timing, vehicle speeds, and turn probabilities so elegantly that I am genuinely surprised that my efforts have not inspired onlookers to stop what they're doing and compose poetry in my honor.

  • Choosing From a Menu:  I am really really good at picking what to eat in restaurants.   Is the menu gigantic, listing foods of many cuisines?  They'll suck at almost all of them so order something simple like a burger.  Are items surprisingly cheap?  Avoid the meat products.  Is it a well-regarded restaurant that's serving a vegetable you've always hated?  Now's the time to try it again!  I will admit that I occasionally order the wrong thing, but I can almost always figure out what went wrong and determine if the restaurant is crappy or if I just need to order something else.  Everyone's taste buds are different, so I can't necessarily order the best thing for you, but sometimes superpowers aren't aimed at the common good.

  • Picking a Line:  Wondering which checkout line to get in at the supermarket?  Watch and learn.  First, spend a few seconds evaluating the choices.  Sometimes a long line will go very quickly if a some of the people have very few items to buy.  Avoid the lines containing the very old or the very lonely.  Strongly consider the lines filled with people who look like they've mastered this exercise. At the grocery store, for example, I will gladly stand in a line filled with neatly dressed 40 year-old women sporting no-nonsense haircuts.  They are checkout ninjas and will save you time.  However, time, as we all know, is money.  Money, of course, is the root of all evil.  Thus, this particular superpower is well suited for supervillains, so use it wisely. 
What are you superpowers?

11 comments:

Lola said...

I cannot resist revealing all, since you ask so persuasively.

I can fly, and I dig tunnels with nothing but the power of thought. I can also tell spectacular lies without being detected.

Bet you're glad you know me now. Those villains will be quaking in their boots. Not that you do know me, but hey, you can't have everything.

Anonymous said...

My amazing power is the ability to know exactly when to display my godlike pedanticism, hence this revelation. Money is not the root of all evil, The 'LOVE' of money is the blah blah blah. Pretty cool power wouldn't you say? I get invited to a lot of parties but weirdly no-one else ever shows up.

Mike said...

Lola, you should team up with someone who has mastered the sea, then you could travel unimpeded across land, sea, and air.

Anon, I am torn between being proud of my ignorance of the Biblical origins of this phrase, and being embarrassed by it. Regardless, I'm totally putting you on my invite list for my next party.

Anonymous said...

My superpower is to expose your true not-grumpy self and make your face light up when I run up to you in the morning at work.

--Leonarda

The Wife said...

My superpower is putting up with my husbands snarky comments. But it takes all my strength.

Mike said...

Leonarda, your superpower is awesome but misguided. I am not grumpy; I am accurately emotioned. If I appear to be dismayed, it is because the situation around me has manifested itself in a non-optimal configuration. I am a beacon of ought-to-be-ness.

Wife, your superpower is unnecessary as well! I am not snarky; I am expressing the appropriate sentiment for the current environment. You're welcome!

Dr Becca said...

My superpower is zeroing in on the most expensive thing in a discount store, like DSW or Filene's Basement. It is a shitty superpower, I gotta say.

Mike said...

Dr Becca, your superpower is getting on the tenure track! Totally impressive. I would have posted a congrats on your blog, but a zillion other people beat me to the punch. Congrats!

Bones said...

Nice try, but I will not reveal it to you any more than I would tell Oprah or Anonymous Pedantic when they asked. If I did, you're lives wouldn't be worth a plugged nickel.

Or so I'm told.

Diana said...

You need to share your superpower #2 with Colin. He takes an unbelievably long time to order at restaurants (imagining how each item on the menu would taste and the pros and cons) and does not mind making the waiter stand there for 5 minutes. "Uh, should I come back?" "No, no... I've almost decided." It's quite comical (and embarrassing).

I share your superpower #3. In addition, I possess the superpower of being able to predict exactly what people look like by looking in their grocery cart. This goes beyond, "Veggies, skinny... Doritos, fat." I can also tell when the Chips & Soda cart is being pushed by a skinny person and a veggie/fruit cart is actually being pushed by a fat person. I can even tell ages and overall persona just from the cart because, you see, I have a superpower.

Mike said...

Bones, pfft, I think with my arsenal of superpowers I could protect myself pretty well.

Diana, you should make some money with your superpower, like the people at amusement parks who guess your age or weight. "Guess Your Looks or Your Groceries Are Free!" Genius.