Jewish World Review May 2, 2003 / 30 Nissan, 5763
The best super powers
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Later in the year, a new reality show, "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" will be airing on the WB network. Non-super-powered regular folks who have notions about being a superhero will appear in costumes before a panel of celebrity judges who have played onscreen superheroes. (Can anyone say "Adam West?") The semi-finalists will get a "superhero makeover" and competent in various stunts that mimic comic book feats. The winner will have his or her idea developed by the creative team of Stan Lee, the father of modern super-heroes, possibly culminating in an actual comic book.
I haven't thought about being a super-hero for some years now, but on the radio show "This American Life" (www.thisamericanlife.org) they did a show on "super powers" and asked people "If you could have one super-power what would it be?" and "What would you do with it?" The host, Ira Glass, reported that overwhelmingly, the two top super-powers were "flying," and "invisibility," and that interestingly, not a single person who responded to the question said that they would use their power to "fight crime," or "combat evil." (In fairness, I don't think they interviewed George W. Bush). Common answers people gave on how they'd use invisibility included "sneak on airlines" and "see naked women." "Flying" was mainly seen as thrilling and a way to avoid rush-hour traffic.
Which, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense. I've always just assumed that if one day I accidentally walked into a forbidden zone and was bathed in cosmic rays and attained powers "far beyond those of mortal men," I'd immediately don a full-length latex outfit and a cape and spring into action foiling evil-doers. But what for? What's in it for me? Besides, I don't need to be a super-hero to have an "identity crisis." I already have that!
Yes, this "Who Wants to Be a Superhero" idea is great, but it's a young person's game. No more Superman or Spider-Man fantasies for me. Now my superhero aspirations are much more modest. I'd like to be a hero like:
Head-of-the Line Guy: Whenever I was at the DMV or supermarket, I could ask anyone "Do you mind if I get ahead of you?" and because of my super-power, they'd all be compelled to say "Sure, go ahead," "Hey, no problem," and "Please do."
Metabolism Man: I would use this power to eat fried foods, eat more chocolate and drink more alcohol, knowing that my "super metabolism" would just burn it all off, keeping me fit and trim, without paying for it with hours at the gym.
Understanding Women Lad: This must be one of those powers, like "night vision" and "reflexes" that diminish with age, because I swear I used to be better at it. As it stands now, the next time I go on a date, I'm about ready to bring along an interpreter.
The Rememberer: This power would enable me to recall where I put my keys, why I walked into this room, the name of this person standing before me who I've met a million times before, and what I have to do today without constantly checking my list.
Investment Boy: Probably the power most adults wish for, the power to foresee with 100% accuracy, which stocks are going up, which ones are going down, and the ability to act on it immediately.
Laundry Lad: Oh, to be able to snap my fingers and have my clothes not only magically become clean, but also folded, sorted, ironed, and smelling "country fresh."
The Sleeper: Another power that has faded with age, as The Sleeper I'd put my head on the pillow and wake up eight hours later fresh and alert.
Customer Service Master: With this power I could get a "customer service representative" to answer my calls immediately and provide clear and positive answers. It would also force store clerks to get off the phone and pay attention to me. If I had this power in conjunction with "Head-of -the -line" Guy, life would be so-ooo much more sweet.
The Riposter: When someone insulted me or issued a cutting remark, this power would enable me to instantly come back with the perfect rejoinder, instead of saying "Oh yeah?" and then getting in my car and thinking of what I shoud've said twenty minutes later.
BECOME A "SUPER-WRITER:" Yes, now you can develop that super-writing power you've been dreaming about, by taking my next one-day "Column & Personal Essay Writing Workshop" on May 17. Learn how to take your thoughts and experiences and turn them into entertaining and publishable pieces that someone will pay you for! For details, go to www.stansinberg.com or phone 415-389-8959.