First published in the ever excellent Skirt!, a magazine that confirms the idea I’ve always had that I was supposed to live in Charleston, South Carolina, even though I’ve never been.
I spent a large part of my young life waiting for my superpowers to manifest. I knew I was supposed to have them, and I was a little annoyed it was taking so long for them to appear. I couldn’t fly. I wasn’t unusually strong. A few times a year I would stare at a pencil and will it to roll towards me, just to check if my power might be telekinesis.
Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I realized the super powers weren’t coming. At that point, I was even too old to be a child prodigy. Once you’re in your mid-twenties, anything cool you might accomplish is just something cool you accomplished, not prodigy material. Sure, if I was lucky, maybe some day I’d be in some sort of horrific accident and the government would rebuild me with bionic parts, but it wasn’t looking good. I resembled my parents much too much to actually be an adopted alien with latent super abilities. I hadn’t been all that talented at science, so my exposure to radioactive spiders was almost nil.
It was starting to look like I might just be a normal person, like — and this is very difficult for me to say — like everyone else.
Then, one day, I realized the truth. I couldn’t have special powers.
I simply couldn’t be trusted with super powers. I would have abused the hell out of them.
A rule of thumb for superheroes, is that they have to keep their powers a secret. I’m pretty sure Batman never had one too many tequila sunrises and started whipping bat shaped tools out of his utility belt at the bar. For one, he’s waaaay too moody to have a drink as fun as a tequila sunrise. Secondly, Batman understands the super hero secrecy rule. Conversely, pretty much everyone I have ever been drunk with knows, in agonizing detail, my entire life story. At least they know the highlights, and I’m thinking the ability to fly or shoot lasers out of my eyes would qualify as highlights. That girl who was utterly rude to me back in 2002? I TOTALLY would have popped out my Wolverine claws and scared the bejeezus out of her. There’s no doubt about it. She shouldn’t make me mad. She wouldn’t like me when I’m mad.
Actually, there are a lot of differences between Batman and myself. For instance, I would never make Robin run around in green Depends diapers. And if I were a millionaire playboy, I’d be pretty happy just being a millionaire playboy and would skip all the skulking about in caves with flying rodents.
But I digress.
I hate to admit it, but the sad truth is that I if I had superpowers, I would often use them for petty things. If I could walk through walls, then I would walk through bank vaults and use them as my own personal ATMs. I would have read the minds of the boys with which I flirted, in order to know the best way to impress them. When I read their thoughts and realized they were more interested the butterfaced barmaid with the huge rack, I would have flown them to the top of a church steeple and left them there, clinging for dear life, until someone heard them screaming and got them down with a bucket truck.
If I was stretchy, like Mr. Fantastic, I would have used those powers to enhance my sexual prowess. Think that gymnast girlfriend from high school was flexible? Bucko, you haven’t seen anything yet.
I would have showed up at meetings in the Bat Mobile to impress clients. I would have used my ability to fly to avoid air fare to St. Barts much more than I used it to save someone having their purse snatched in Brooklyn. Particularly in winter high season.
I would have used my super strength to win an Olympic medal, and then worn it like an accessory with my best little black dress. I would have used my super speed to grab all the best pairs of shoes at the Sak’s sale before anyone else had a chance to get them. If you were a size eight and a half, you would be totally out of luck if I was in town.
I would have used invisibility to hear what people said about me after I “left” the room, and then punish them accordingly. If I felt the need to return a meal in a restaurant because it was improperly cooked, I would use my invisibility powers to watch the cook and make sure he didn’t spit on my food before returning it to me. This would actually be the first time I ever returned something, just for that reason.
If I could breathe underwater like Aquaman, I would use that ability to freak people out at pool parties, or to fake emergencies in order to get attention from lifeguards.
If something didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, I would reverse the spinning of the planet by flying around it very fast, in order to turn back time, so I could try again. I might do that a dozen times until I got it right. I might do it every 10 years or so just so my dog never grew old and died.
Don’t get me wrong. I would have tried not to do these things. But it wouldn’t have worked. I would have been powerless against my powers.
And that’s why the universe didn’t grant me superpowers.
That’s the only reason.
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