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Super Powers

By Scott Roeben

I got a new pair of binoculars. They're great. It's a little like having super powers. If you think about it, lots of things we buy serve that purpose. What we really want is super powers.

Cars. "Look how fast I can go without sweating."

Megaphones. "See how loud I can talk?"

Food processors. "No ordinary person could chop carrots this fast."

Stethoscopes. "I can hear a pin drop. In French Guiana!"

Super powers are why astronauts do what they do, I'm sure. In zero gravity you feel superhuman. "Look, I can lift this twelve ton satellite...with my pinkie!"

Crane operators? Same thing. "Watch, watch. Wanna see me lift a riverboat?"

Even astronomers get in on the act. "I have super vision. I can see BEYOND OUR GALAXY!"

We admire those with super powers, and there are plenty of examples of people who genuinely seem to possess them. At first glance, it appears that people with odd abilities or "gifts" are treated with scorn and ridicule (scorn's twin, but who successfully completed rehab). In truth, we look up to those with super powers. The following are a few illustrations:

• The newspaper Independent on Sunday listed the story of Dora Oberling, a Florida stripper, who was shot at by an angry audience member. Her life was spared when the bullet was deflected by her silicone breast implants. Man of Steel, eat your unaugmented heart out.

• It is not all that uncommon for people to be born with two penises. Men, for the most part. Some powers are more super than others.

• Scientists say that Besilo Maramoko of Madagascar can read a newspaper from 32 feet away. It's rumored, however, that even with his "gift," Mr. Maramoko--like so many of us--cannot manage to see the forest for the trees.

• There is a man in Central China who, in the last two decades or so, has eaten 1,320 pounds of glass--glasses and bottles, mostly--with no ill effects. I can just see the comic book. "Glass Man." He's invincible, but in constant danger as a variety of unsuspecting birds inexplicably fly into him.

• According to the Sun Star Daily, a Filipino newspaper, the three children of Segundina Jimena have gills. The holes enlarge when they go underwater, which--it's claimed--allows the kids to stay underwater for up to six minutes. Wow. Now that's a super power you could really use. Especially in cases where you didn't want to have to breathe through your nose, like during political conventions.

The list goes on and on. Mother Nature has a great sense of humor. (After all, she was responsible for France, wasn't she? Not that she'd admit to it.)

There are many stories of guys speared through the head with metal spikes who survive. Scores of accounts of mothers who exhibit extraordinary strength to rescue their offspring in jeopardy. And who can forget the curious stories of people who become magnetized or who burst into flames. Real life super powers can crop up anywhere.

Without a doubt our most revered fictional superhero is SupermanTM. He is so powerful that he has his own "TM" which follows him around everywhere. Not every superhero can say that. SupermanTM is the ultimate in super powers. Sight. Hearing. Strength. Nevermind the tights, we all want to be him. All right, including the tights, we want to be him.

We all want to see through things. We all want to be able to crush cars with our bare hands. Why? God knows. But once you had a few crushed cars lying around your yard, you can bet you'd come up with a use for them.

The point is, we would all like to be able to fly. No more fighting for arm rests in coach class. No more screeching infants. We want to fly. High and fast. To hell with the havoc it would wreak on your hair. Was Superman'sTM hair ever wreaked? No, it was perfect. He even had Super Hair.

Super Hair. Heck, we've only begun to explore the super powers we might harness. What about Super Eyelids? They'd be clear so teachers would think your eyes were open when you were sleeping in class. Or Super Eyebrows. Oh, right, Andy Rooney already has those. Super Kidneys? "Filtering toxins to preserve the American way."

Oh, sure, super powers might bring with them some drawbacks.

Who would cut Superman'sTM hair, for example, and with what? And who would replace his "TM" when necessary? Heaven knows I wouldn't want to be saddled with a "TM." Heck no.

Say you could read a newspaper from 32 feet away. What would the paper look like at arm's length? The average Family Circus character would look the size of a cold storage warehouse. That can't be good.

Say you were "Glass Man." Would you always be afraid that your enemies would discover your paralyzing fear of diamonds?

And say you had two penises. Not for any particular reason, mind you, I just thought it might be amusing for your friends and loved ones to hear you say it.

All right, so maybe having extraordinary powers wouldn't be as great as it sounds. I still think it would be a hoot to have gills--if for no other purpose than to make everybody with bullet-proof breasts jealous.


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Scott Roeben, 1999, 2000. All rights reserved.