This is written in earnest; my desire is sincere. And not uncommon: I mean, the longing for a superpower and the announcing of same are not rare.
No less than President Obama was asked on the campaign “trail” about his power. He said he’d like to communicate in any language: read, write, speak. This is good, and one I have shared. My version of it, but not the power I most pine for, is that whatever book I touch, I immediately assimilate its contents, in whatever language. I have visions of running through libraries, rubbing the books as I shoot down the aisles.
But this “power” has a significant and regrettable downside. Reading is pleasurable and I’d be forever depriving myself of re-re-reading Rumpole or O’Brian at nights. Airplane rides would become even more horrifying with nothing to do to pass the time but watch on the seat-back miniature cinematographs story-less bouts of computer animation, all narrated by choruses of lifeless dialogue.
I also don’t want to fly (under my own efforts; a aeroplane is just barely tolerable). Because then I’d be tempted, like any citizen who owns a car, to use that method of conveyance in lieu of walking, and there would go another pleasant hobby. Amazing strength I don’t need, because there’s nothing heavy I should want to lift. Being bullet proof is somewhat appealing, but since I no longer live in Detroit, it’s not necessary.
No, the power I wish to have, the capacity that would trump all others, is selective deafness!
Ain’t you amazed?, as Jack Aubrey (a character in those O’Brian books) might ask. To be able to switch on and off hearing at will would be a talent most enviable.
Think of it! There you sit, exiled in yet another endless committee meeting: switch off! Then sit back with a countenance indicating concern, but where you are blissfully left to your own thoughts. If enough people gesture your way, switch on!, and consider if it’s something with which you have to deal.
You’re at your desk, beavering away, and in the street from five blocks and a vehicle begins to back up, all the while emitting an ear splitting beep-beep-beep. Why? Lest a hoard of innocent bystanders get run over, that’s why. Switch off!
The radio is playing an interview with an important personage, but a commercial break is necessary. “We’re conducting a marketing trial in your area”, “Donate your car to us and we’ll give ten cents of the profits to our sponsoring charity”, “Are you fat or in debt? Call us today!” Switch off! These breaks are all roughly the same length, and with some practice you’ll be able to switch back on when the program resumes.
You finally discover, after years of patient searching, a public house which does not insist its drinks must be served with gut-wrenching doses of incredibly loud, yet stupefyingly bad, music, and some clown sits next to you, whips out her cell phone and then shouts into it with all the vigor of a calvary officer leading a charge. This being a lady, you can’t do anything more than stare blunted daggers, so…switch off! and enjoy your Guinness in peace.
A cheery stroll down the street, until you come upon the shopping district. Doors of the establishments are open, and out pours, in terrifying quantities, gut-wrenching doses of incredibly loud, yet stupefyingly bad, music. Switch off! Incidentally, the last government sponsored survey shows that there are no known stores left in America which do not play music; shop owners conclude people cannot buy unless their brains are first pulverized by peppy bass lines.
A picnic on the Sheep Meadow, on a fine July day; the sun warm, the champagne cold. And then Summer Stage, set half the park away, starts up and yet another diverse band begins pumping gut-wrenching doses of incredibly loud, yet stupefyingly bad, music. Switch off!
I challenge to you come up with any power which has as many benefits and little to no negatives. Just don’t tell your wife of your talent, or she’ll forever accuse you of using it even when you’re not.