Cape and Mask, Optional

I firmly believe that we are super heroes. Not, naturally, the “leaping tall buildings in a single bound” type, but in more mundane ways. If you take the time get to know someone, really, really well, or if perhaps, if they are too eager to share, you will no doubt find that there is some strange, or perhaps not so strange thing that they can do far better that the normal human.

super

My friend Mountain Man, for instance, is a spider. It was he who first talked me into clinging to a rock face, several meters above the very hard and unforgiving ground. He had been climbing with his dad for years and through blind trust and peer pressure, I succumbed to his offer one day, roped in and cheated gravity with each lost grip and momentary plummet before the harness yanked tight and sent sensitive parts of my anatomy into internal hiding until the coast was clear. The process was then repeated.

As it happened, I grew to quite like rock climbing and with a sizable investment in gear that could have been more wisely put in Apple Computer stock, I have continued to enjoy the sport. I’m not great, but I’m not bad either. I like to think of my self as an adequate rock climber and although I have seen some very accomplished climbers do some truly amazing stuff, none have been even close to the “wow” factor of Mountain Man. Somehow, my good friend has the ability to momentarily distract gravity in a, “Hey, look! A puppy!” kind of way and just sort of scurry up what I would swear was an un-climbable surface. I am continuously in awe over what this man can get traction on and scamper up.

Another friend, The Doctor, is in possession of a gift that is perhaps, more easily understood than being the “human fly” like our mutual friend. His power though, is no less impressive. It’s his memory. As an example, when we were kids, there was a strategy board game that ruled our lives. It was called Battletech. It had a bajillion rules and components and with out getting all geeky on you, it involved big anthropomorphic machines called “Mechs” that would blow each other up with heavy weapons at great distance. The game was played on a very large and changeable map covered in hexagons. The multitude of mechs, vehicles, troops, building types and what not literally filled volumes. There were easily a dozen compendiums that took in the rules and scope of the game. It was a lot of fun. It was also a very, very long time ago. Though I can remember some of the salient points of the game and what some of the mechs were called, maybe even what some of them were armed with, The Doctor remembers them…ALL. That’s not to say that he hasn’t had anything else to fill his head with in the intervening years. With a doctorate in micro-biology and a staff of minions in lab coats, I assume that he’s made good use of his giant brain. What amazes me is that somehow, the information on any fine point of playing Battletech has some how avoided being overwritten with say, how to save the universe from cholera… which he’s also working on. Me? I’m lucky if today’s grocery list doesn’t overwrite my memory of third grade.

Then there is Ioseph. This man… is a wonder. You can’t miss Ioseph, for he is a landmark among men. He’s big in every dimension, including his heart, stands at well over six foot tall and has flaming red hair. He is also, occasionally on fire.

Don’t ask.

This man could be caught in a china shop, it’s contents obliterated into dime sized shards, a baseball bat in his hands, sweat on his brow, and wearing a t-shirt reading “I did it”, and somehow, he’d manage to skate away scott free. Watching Ioseph wriggle out of some situational noose is like watching a master watchmaker craft you a beautiful and perfect mantle clock out of nothing but a box of random gears and springs. It’s watching a master at work. When it comes to culpability, the man is the living embodiment of Teflon and his side-stepping of conviction is art in its most perfect form. I’d say that he should be in charge of making excuses for the military or some other governmental agency, but frankly, I’m pretty sure that if he ever got himself that job, within a week, he’d get his new office set up on some south Pacific island where clothing is not merely optional, but possibly forbidden and staff the place with beautiful women… and get away with it. In fact, they’d probably give him a metal or something. Ioseph is my hero.

As for my family, Short Stack is still too young to spot his superpower and Lulu Belle is a very long way off from that day of discovery. You might think that I’d say that Action Girl’s power would be to dock a hundred ton, sea going vessel in a space that is about two feet longer than the boat she’s piloting, or perhaps how she can comfortably hop into just about any piece of enormous earth moving equipment and drive it with the delicacy of a waltz, but no. Though these are impressive, to be sure, that’s not it. I think that it’s her innate ability to make an amazing meal out of bizarre and disparate ingredients that she finds in the dark recesses of our kitchen cabinets. Some how, she knows what will be delicious and I do not believe that she has ever been wrong. This, more than the heavy machinery, holds me in awe.

That brings us to me. My superpower is pretty easy to overlook. Many folk might even think I didn’t have one. Oh, contraire! My superpower showed its self at an early age and my parents took note of it. When I was a child, we did a lot of world traveling. We all had an aspect of the trip that was our responsibility. Mine, was packing.

The thing is, with little to no effort, I can pack any amount of stuff into any small space. Your bag might tip the scale at four metric tons when I’m done, but if you want to get that foot stool that you bought in Turkey (an Ottoman ottoman?), that vase you picked up in Italy AND the three bottles of retsina, four framed pictures of nymphs and one statue of Athena you pick up in Greece, home and in one piece… well then, I’m your man. Most of the time, I don’t need my power. Only when moving, cleaning up the basement or going on holiday does it come out for use, but as superpowers go, I’m pretty happy with it. It’s not so impressive as a party trick, but practically speaking, it means that four of us living in a teeny tiny house can fit quite comfortably. It also means that I kick butt at Tetris.

Still… Flying would have been nice too.

So… What’s yours?

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5 Responses

  1. Being a human fly or human spider could be very dangerous. Most people HATE bugs! That is unless they are entomologists, and they they would impale you with a pin and display you in a glass case somewhere. No fun.

    The ability to pack vast quantities of stuff, now that’s a talent! I also share that one. Comes in handy when moving house or Christmas shopping.

    Doesn’t it, though?! I’ll never knock that ability. I remember getting everything I owned into a pickup truck and covered with a tarp flush with the edge of the bed. I could never pull that off now, but still, it was a feat of engineering, I assure you. Good to know that there’s another out there who shares my ability. Together we could pack…THE WORLD! MUHAHAHA!
    -TP

  2. What a weird and yet completely heartfelt tribute to the important people in your life! If we all saw each other as superheroes and looked for the power that made them special, the world would be a better place…and of course, Spandex and Danskin would sell a heck of a lot more tights! 🙂 Great post, TP.

    Eeek. I’m not sure I could withstand the sight of my friends in Spandex. Pass the eyebleach, please! 😉
    -TP

  3. The ability to quaff mass amounts of good whiskey in a single sitting!

    That, and I can bench press most people I know.

    Knowing you as I do, I know both of these things to be 100% true. You truly have the liver of warrior. Cuchullian would be proud. As for benching your friends, I picture one of us tied to a stake and you doing reps as the unfortunate pleads not to be dropped. All in all, a fun mental picture!
    -TP

  4. You are using way too much past tense when you talk about Battletech. The game is alive and well, entering it’s 25th year of ‘Mech stomping goodness.

    Check out the main site. You know know you miss blowing up ‘Mechs with lasers, missiles, and PPCs.

    http://www.classicbattletech.com

    Ahhh! Don’t you worry none! I have a young son… and a box in the basement full of rule books and carefully painted lead figurines. His day will come. If you are still around when he puts on his neuro-helmet, he’ll meet you on Canopus IV. He’ll be the one in the red and yellow MAD-5R.

    I can’t believe I can remember that! That was my last mech. I loved that thing! Okay… my geek’s showing. I’ll stop.
    -TP

  5. At first I wanted to go for the compact packing title too – but cashmerecafe threatened she would expose the frequent wrinkling of T shirts and the little details like that – so I think I’d go for orientation (will never get lost, not even in strangest places) and noticing unusual details.

    Hey! That works! Knowing where you are is handy most of the time. Especially in strange lands.
    -TP

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