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February 19, 2011

Pick a Superpower. Any Superpower. Not that one.

Pick a Superpower. Any Superpower. Not that one.

By Brunonia Barry

Super Powers

Last week, A Marist poll revealed that if most Americans had their choice of superpowers, they would either want to read minds or to time travel. 

Really America?

I am fairly well versed on the subject of reading minds, being quite a talented mind reader myself, and, trust me, that’s not a superpower you want to have. Well okay, maybe I can’t read minds per se, but I did write an entire first novel about someone who can, and that’s just about the same thing, isn’t it? I’m telling you, America, someone else’s mind is not a place you want to go.  To shamelessly misquote one of my own characters, who, albeit fictional, is otherwise an expert on the subject: Knowing what’s in people’s minds is never in anyone’s best interest. This is especially true if what you want to know is what those people think of you.  

Why does it not surprise me that the majority of Americans who chose this particular superpower were women? Since we are so often accused of wishing men could read our minds, and since they always refuse to cooperate, I can only assume that we want to use our new found superpowers to unravel that great mystery, what the heck is going on in men’s minds, anyway? Something? Nothing? And are they thinking about us?

Well, my sisters, I hate to rain on our superpower parade, but men aren’t thinking about us. What they’re thinking about is getting away from us.

Proof? The majority of men chose time travel as their superpower.

Another big mistake. Sure, it sounds cool at first: Guys, history, technology, a perfect blend. But think about it fellas. As soon as it dawns on you that 1967 and the first Superbowl is as far back as you really want to go, you’ll realize that you’ve squandered a massive opportunity. Because if you can’t find some ancient or obscure sporting event on ESPN, ESPN Classics, ESPN Radio, ESPN HD, ESPN 3D, ESPN 2, or ESPN Desportes, then time travel really isn’t going to do it for you. Besides, who knows what kind of access you’d have to La-Z-Boy chairs? You might actually have to stand during a sporting event which would mean you couldn’t sleep during most of it and, without a rewindable DVR, you’d have to stop looking things up on your iPhones and actually pay attention to the game.

Therefore, I’ve decided that the superpower you men really want is teleportation. Ever since Captain Kirk was beamed up on Star Trek, you guys have known on some level that this was what you’ve always needed, the ability to get out of places in an instant. You could say and do whatever you wanted and then just be gone.

Women know this is true. How many times after a social event have we said to our guys “You went too far tonight when you said ...” and received the reply “Well, you should be glad I didn’t say what I was really thinking.”

Which brings me back to that whole mind reading thing. It’s just not a superpower we want to have.

Reading your minds right now, I’m sensing that you probably want me to stop the gender baiting and show you the list, so here it is:

Reading Minds             28%

Time Traveling             28%   

Flying                              16%  

Teleportation                 11%

Invisibility                     10%

Don’t Know                     8%

I’m surprised that everyone didn’t want to have the ability to fly. It’s practical. No more long lines at security or full body TSA pat downs. Soaring through the air with the greatest of ease and as much legroom as you want. And all for free? I would have guessed this would be America’s number one choice.

Invisibility is an interesting superpower. Everyone feels invisible at some point. But who would choose that one? Criminals probably. Writers definitely. This might be my first choice if it weren’t for the flying option.

The most interesting stat for me was the final one. What kinds of Americans don’t know what superpower they want? That’s just ridiculous. Our entire national culture is based on the idea of superpowers. Being one, wanting one. Not knowing which one you want is just un-American.

So step up Ladies and Gentlemen. What would your personal superpower be? Please don’t be constrained by the list above. Be creative. I, for one, have always wanted to be able to jump ten feet into the air and come down in the same place. I know what you’re thinking, that’s a pretty lame superpower, Brunonia. You’re right, it isn’t much, but it would be great fun at parties. Except for hitting my head on the ceiling. Well, maybe I’ll only use it at barbeques and garden parties. But you get the idea. It can be anything you want.

If you could have any superpower your imagination could dream up, what would it be?



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I was just blogging qbout this the other day after a conversation with my first graders. Some of them are sure, absolutely sure they have superpowers. I love the magic and wonder of little ones. As for me, I'd definitely choose flying.

Didn't Mel Gibson make a movie about a man who could read women's minds?

'nuf said.

I want telekinesis. Then I could hit certain people upside the head and say, "I didn't do that."

There is a show on ABC called No Ordinary Family and they show lots of super powers. The dad is super strong and can stop bullets. The mom can run really fast which frees up time to do housework (Ugh). The daughter can read minds and recently learned she can also control them by putting thoughts in people's heads, and the son has a super brain so he can remember things and figure out math problems which somehow gives him the ability to play football...

Anyway, I guess either teleportation or mind control, not total mind control, just enough to make the children in my class listen when they're bouncing off the walls... Flying would be fun but teleportation would save me a lot of time flying back and forth to see family as well as help me avoid all the crazy snow that is making the streets unsafe...

Super Power??? Ummm.... Persistance?!?!

The list shows limited thinking. To help people along, Here is the list of Superpowers from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_superhuman_features_and_abilities_in_fiction#See_also.

I'd like Mind Control. Maybe just a touch like being able to think "Put away the laundry." and my children actually do it. Or the whole way, "These aren't the droids you are looking for."

You know, maybe a touch of Mary Poppins magic wouldn't be bad.


I want super strength. As a single woman, I'm sick to death of restricting where I go out of fear. If I had super strength, I would be confident that I could defend myself if necessary.

I would like to be able to teleport jerks to a deserted island or (preferably) to a distant planet -- actually anywhere they would have zero chance of returning. And I would have separate islands/planets for men and women; there's no need to pass those genes along any further. I would be fair in my selection (if only because I am a noble guy) but my decisions would be final -- no appeal. And because I am such a kind-hearted soul, I probably wouldn't teleport anyone I know, but most politicians, half of the driving population in the D.C. area, and a hell of a lot of entertainers would be put on notice.

For me, definitely flying. My favorite dreams are when I start to spin and sudenly rise in the air like a helicopter. Of course, we'd have to stop cutting down our old hardwood forests so that we'd have places to perch and rest, right?

Alan, thanks for the wiki-list. I also thought the test questions were limiting.

Persistance, William. That's one I hadn't thought of, but it certainly seems like a superpower to me.

Stuckinmypedals: When I was a child, i was pretty sure I could fly. I also thought Superman lived under my house. Kids are great.

Jerry: If teleporting jerks had been on the list, I think it would have been a top choice.

What a fun game.

If I had a super power it would be the ability to make people, especially pundits and politicians, tell the DAMN TRUTH.

The world would change overnight.

Failing that, astral projection.

Let's think about super powers verses magical powers.
I think a super power is a power you already have and then thru some radioactive explosion (for you piro guys out there)or other freak thing is enhanced to a super level.
The stuff super man could do was normal on his home planet but super on earth...no?
I'd like magical powers myself. Like turning men into toads or changing the color of my shoes to match my dress. You know, the practical ones.
I have had dreams of flying but I think that has some psychological meaning since I can't fly when I'm awake.

I had this discussion last week with a friend. I chose teleportation, ala 'Jumpers', and she chose flying. Hmm. Now I'm thinking the superpower CONTENTMENT would be good.
But Xena's magical powers sound tempting.

I want strength. Being invisible is too much like mind reading, and I agree with you -- that's a lousy power. Besides, as people age we become invisible anyway.

I suppose what I would like is a version of Time Travel: I'd like to be able to "do over" my mistakes (ha! Everybody wants to be able to do that!) and I'd also like to go back into the past to prevent loved ones from having life-changing illnesses (so would I also need the ability to change cells, etc?)or accidents.

While I like flying -- think of the energy it would require! I wouldn't need any other exercise -- I really would rather be able to float in the air like Mary Poppins. Can she only do that inside though? I'd like to float above crowds in cities, float on breezes in good weather, float across the bay to look down in the water. I guess I will always go for the low-energy alternative, walking over running, sitting/walking, floating/swimming,etc.

Oh, Deb, that is a fantastic one -- the Do Over power, except that for perfectionists, there'd be the constant temptation to do over, do over, do over, and never get to the next day. Plus, all your friends would be calling you up, asking you to fix their stuff too.

I really want flying, except -- wouldn't it be cold? If I have to bundle up in layers of thermals and quilted clothes, it's not quite the same. But I might choose it anyway, but it doesn't have a lot of practical application because for long distances, how do you take your luggage or even your laptop and for shorter ones, like picking up the kids from school, unless they fly too, there's still the question of how to get them home.

I'm thinking Speed Writing. Being able to write novels as fast as I read novels. I don't mean the NaNoWriMo-quality novels either. I'm talking bestsellers. The classy ones.

How about having a delete button?
Or being able to clean your mind like a computer. Delete the bad memories. Reorganize and compress information and files. Remember what you want. Forget the yuck (like that song that is SOOO lame that consumes the thoughts).

Harley, I think you worry too much. :-)

The power to undo would be sad, I think. So much of life happens for a reason, and when you look back, even on what seemed to be horrible events at the time, you can usually see a lesson you (or someone) were meant to learn from it.

Turning objects into gold so I don't have to go to my day job to earn the money to pay for my novel-writing habit? (And just to be restrained, I mean only living expenses, nothing ostentatious like rims for my Hummer or a diamond grill.) However, I've wandered into the land of myth, sorry. I like Harley's Speed Writing, but I think I'd pick teleportation. Hey! That would save on plane fare for tours and conferences!

I'd have to say teleportation, too. Air travel is ridiculous and driving is a menace. I always said if I could have a magic object, it would be a flying carpet.

On the other hand, I'd like to wrinkle my nose and have my whole house be spotless, too.

Or, if we're really fantasizing, have the superpower of a diplomacy that would let me create peace among warring peoples.

I'm torn between flying and healing. I was one of those kids who truly believed she could fly. Even as late as 12 or 13, I remember walking down the street thinking, "If I just focus hard enough, I'll be able to levitate." And yes, I used the word levitate. What does it say about me that I was both able to use the word and believe I could do it? As for healing, I'm sure this is in my head now because of an aunt battling cancer and her grandson who recently committed suicide. Oh, to be able to put my hands on someone and heal their bodies and minds.

Harley, it *is* cold! One time I went up in a homemade 2-idiot flying machine that looked basically like a bicycle with wings and was completely open all around. It was not only cold, it was damned noisy, and not just because of the engine, but because of the wind whipping by. Those birds don't have it so good, I decided.

I'd LOVE invisibility so I can go to the grocery store in my pj's. Or, hell, naked, that might be fun. But I'd sure want a guarantee on the invisibility feature. Would I pay for my groceries? That is the question. I want to think I would. What would people think of a sack of food floating out the door, or of an invisibly-propelled shopping cart? Karen, I think too much, too, lol.

I can fly already. My dreams about it have been so real. All you have to do is stand on your tiptoes and wiggle your hands and then swoop your arms, and then trust the "lift" you're getting under them, and up you go to float near the ceiling. In one dream I went flying in a basket, and that was fun.

Very funny post, Brunonia.

I would pick "COURAGE".
Moving thousands of miles away from home and navigating new challenges and adventures I welcomed the gift of storming ahead in face of the unknown.
Being small of stature I had bosses who called me Minnie Mouse. I would have preferred WONDER WOMAN, but hey, you take what you can get!!

I would also pick strength with a side portion of good health. Be strong and healthy and fully capable of protecting myself! Mind you that teleportation of other people would be good too, goodbye stinky people on the bus!

I would be a shape shifter. I have always wanted to be an otter or an eagle -- or my dog!

I took a test on the Internet asking how charismatic are you?
Ironically, I scored very high while my DH who is more quiet, knowledgeable and caring scored lower.
And yet he draws people to him like proverbial flies.
UMM..it seems that I can learn a lot from him and become the new person that I want to be..more like him.
Or, maybe I checked the wrong boxes. LOL!

Okay, fine, I was all set until I read "healing." I thought yeah--until I remembered there are whole books written about that. And the problems that ensue.

And I don't think flying would take any energy, Holly. And NAncyP, I agree--When I dream it, it's pretty easy. (Except for in my dream-world there's a rule that you can't carry anything and you have to start from the ground. I dunno, that's just how it is in the dreams.) And it isn't cold.

I guess I'd like to have something do to with brilliant mind-ness. Supreme understanding? Of EVERYTHING! Wow. That's kind of intersting. When you start to think about what that would be like, you kind of have to admit you already have it.

Hmm. HOw about the power of Time? To make good things last longer and bad things go away quickly? Ah, I'm writing myself into a Saki short story. That cannot end well.

I've often wished for teleportation, and perhaps add Hermione's time-turner for the ability to be in two places at once.
Flying might be fun, but I bump into things too much just walking . . .

Fun post, Brunonia!

Like Laura Curtis, I want the nose-wiggling, "Bewitched" kind of power too. Not only for cleaning the house, which is the main reason I do it, but to expand my meager wardrobe, teleport myself or fly anywhere I'd want, and redesign my house. Sort of like in Harry Potter, where the tents look very small on the outside but are huge with lots of rooms on the inside.

I like Karen's idea about the Truth.
I'd pick teleportation. In no time you go from one place to the other, carrying what you need with you: more practical than flying ( but less romantical, I agree).

Sandi: I'm with you on both flying and healing. I wish more than anything that I could have healed my parents' of RA and Parkinson's. I think I would have given just about anything to have been able to do that.

For sheer fun, though, it's still flying. My dream-flying is a gentle take off then just floating above the treetops. It's not cold, Harley, because I stay low. I also fly down staircases quite often, and I'm quite sure I really did that as a child.

What wonderful superpowers everyone has chosen!

I would want one of two: either teleportation (because my grandkids live 10 hours away by car and I could then visit them daily), or to be like Mary Poppins, with her ability to magically do housework and make life fun (jump into paintings? different flavored drinks? floating on the ceiling? riding carousel horses? Perfect!) My kids tease me about my love of Mary Poppins, because I used to say it all the time when helping them to clean their rooms or pick up after the day care kids... And I love to go places, but hate driving (and who can afford gas these days for long trips anyhow?) So nice to dream!

When you were a kid, you thought Superman lived under your house??? That's the kind of thing that would have scared the dickens out of me as a kid! Why did you think he lived under your house?

One of the older kids in the neighborhood told me that Superman lived on our street. I believed him. I heard noises in our cellar, so I decided that's where Superman lived. I was a huge fan of Superman, so it didn't scare me. When I got older, I found out that we had a family of raccoons that kept breaking into our basement.That scared me.

I would absolutely go with flying. Invisibility would be #2 for me, too. Flying + invisibility would make me SUPER WRITER. Imagine what you could learn and see and do if you were invisible!

For books to know how much I will read before I come back home and split themselves off into that exact chunk of pages, growing a cover, and then healing right back up into the full book when I return.

That's more magic than super, I suppose, but I'm taking a class with heavy books that I need to carry to class, even though we're only looking at a few of the poems each session.

Did you know that you can buy many textbooks as looseleaf binder pages now, so that you can really just carry that week's work around? Amazing!

So interesting it is, I like it !

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