Where do you get the term “sick as a dog” from? Are canines typically more susceptible to germs than humans, are they poorly more often? Maybe one dog cold is the equivalent of seven human colds? *ponders*
I was beginning to think I might be Bruce Willis from “Unbreakable”. It had been so long since I last succumbed to a common cold – or any other malady for that matter – I thought I had at last developed some kind of super power. But alas, it was not to be. Starting on Tuesday and slowly kicking me into touch over the course of the last couple of days, a cold has set in. What began as aches and pains and a general feeling of “some thing’s not right here” evolved into dizziness and nausea before finally coming to rest as cough, sore throat and blocked nose.
I’m not a happy bunny.
Partly because I now have to continue with the mundaneness of household existence whilst suffering the eleventh plague of Egypt (yeah, true story – the colds and flu plague, they didn’t put it into the final draft), but mainly because I have to do this suffering with the knowledge that I don’t have any superpowers.
Boy, I’d love to have some kind of supernatural ability. There are just so many to choose from, when people ask me, what kind of superpower would you have (and with the circle of friends I’ve got, this question comes up more often than you’d think)? I’m often over whelmed by the dilemma of having so many options, so many potential choices each with their own merits. I couldn’t just stick with one, surely? Most superheroes can do more than one thing, if you’re stuck doing one thing you end up with a very two dimensional ultimately boring character.
|Sorry Ben, but, you’re kind’ve lame…please don’t hit me.
What superpowers would I have then? Mental check-list superpower breakdown!
Super strength, ok that’s a nifty little item. Popularised by the boy scout of course, I’m not Superman’s biggest fan. He’s my father’s superhero, not that that’s the reason I think he’s lame of course. He’s lame for a veritable host of reasons, but it’s not my dad’s fault, he got into comics when he was a kid and comics were pants, he didn’t have a lot of options, but he were grateful!!
With the super strength, on the plus side you’d feel very self assured in every wretched hive of scum and villainy you wandered into, and you might even find yourself secretly hoping someone will start a fight with you just so you can show off and paste them through a brick wall. Of course that will inevitably end up with a whole pile of dead civilians and you’ll have no recourse but to turn yourself over to the police and….no… sorry, I meant, pretend it never happened and high tail it to Oa.
|I will kill again…
Ok, so super strength is out. What about super speed. As a man with a powerful love of The Flash, this is definitely one of my favourite abilities, but the real world practical applications of being the fastest man alive? Um…might be a little tricky. What with sonic booms at street level, hurricane slip streams, not paying attention and accidentally carving a path clean through the middle of a fat man…super speed would be fraught with issues. And even if I somehow managed to use my power to travel through time, would I really want to meddle with history? What kind of temporal universe are we living in? To put it simply, am I Kyle Reese or Marty McFly, that’s the real question here.
|Doc…are you absolutely certain I have to be naked to time travel?
So with the comic book glamour of strength and speed cast at the way side of practical reality, what else is there, well…lots. More than can comfortably fit into anything approaching an easy to ready blog post. Once the flood gates of graphic novels and superhero literature have been opened it can sometimes be quite a task to close them again. However, there are some powers that have, in my careful consideration, definitely merited real world, practical approval.
The power of invisibility!
You’re invisible, what’s the first thing you’d do?
Whatever your answer to that question is, says a lot about who you are as a person. You think about that.
Being invisible at will would be awesome, wouldn’t it? Being able to vanish in a crowd, hide from people you don’t feel like talking to, get into movies for free. There’s plenty of things you could get away with if no one could see you, it’s not the most glamorous of powers I’ll give you that, it doesn’t woosh or bang or boom or do anything spectacular. That’s why they tend to give it to characters that don’t really merit much importance but don’t want to be left out.
|You may fancy her, but her power’s still a bit rubbish.
In order for a superpower to be realistically applicable in every day life, it’s going to need to be visually unassuming. Otherwise mysterious government types and the press will be all over you like a rash. Super speedsters will be shackled into enormous hamster wheels, forced to provide the nation’s power until they die! Probably.
The ability to stop and start time, now that would be a great one. Unassuming again so it fits the bill nicely in terms of discretion, the whole universe will be put on pause except for you, all the benefits of super speed without any of the showiness. You could be amazing in a fight, you could have fantastic reflexes, you could nip to the toilet mid-way through a movie and not miss anything and of course, you could sleep in every single morning and never be late for work. Gosh, the practical applications of being able to stop time are phenomenally vast, and if you’re careful about things you could get away with it indefinitely.
I’ve often mulled over the idea of telepathy and telekinesis. They’re both very cool powers, telepathy is much more unassuming than telekinesis though, so for real world applications that renders the ability to move stuff with your mind out of the running.
Telepathy, well it would definitely have to be fully under your control, you don’t want to go around hearing everyone’s thoughts 24/7, you’d go insane! But, now and again when you really want to get to the truth of a matter, it would be marvellous to be able to find out what someone’s really thinking. However, this does pose the awful dilemma of what do you do if you hear something you really shouldn’t have heard, it’s the same moral problem of reading someone’s diary and finding out some juicy gossip, you can’t reveal you know it without also revealing how you found out about it and then it’s hello mysterious government types again. (Yeah, MI5 really hate their diaries being read.)
Even on a small scale, prying into the thoughts of close friends and family could be a terrible thing to do, we’ve all had our off days when we’ve silently wanted our nearest and dearest to just be quiet and go away – how awful would everyone feel if those thoughts were public? Hum…scrap telepathy then, ignorance is bliss.
How about the power to communicate with machines, a la Mika in Heroes? If you had the power to put your hand onto the screen of an ATM and command it to give you money, you’d never have to work again! Plus there’s no moral dilemma because that was already addressed in the series when the kid explains that he didn’t steal the money because it was…I dunno, floating around somewhere. I can’t remember what the exact excuse was but in my mind it was something along the lines of the Superman 3 wage scam that Richard Pryor’s character Gus pulls. We can fine tune the ethics once we get hold of the power. Wouldn’t it be funny to be able to vanish money from badly behaved rich people’s bank accounts! You could be some kind of futuristic Robin Hood!
So, in brief, other powers we don’t want include:
- Laser vision (Practical applications?)
- X-ray vision (possible long term health implications – see Drawn Together)
- Freezing breath (discreet uses would be limited to beverage chilling, and no one wants to be the fridge!)
- Banshee shriek (very limited potential and not in the least bit subtle)
- Turning into rock (stupid.)
- Flight (too many radars, other air users, satellites, too cold, not enough air.)
- Communicating with marine life (too depressing.)
- Stretching like a rubber band (Yeah, ’cause THAT’S cool…)
- Becoming encased in flames (very, very dangerous and far too obvious unless you work in a crematorium, and even then, they have their limits.)
Basically anything showy, blatant or designed only to deal damage, they’re all off limits! Alright!?
What we do want are nice subtle powers that will make our lives really awesome but won’t cause us to get locked up in Area 51.
So that’s a yes to invisibility, temporal control and communicating with machines.
I’m sure if I gave it some thought I could think of dozens and dozens of other ideas, but right now all I really want is just the power to fight the common cold. Is that too much to ask?