J.Camm: A few weeks ago someone sent in this question for my Ask a Bro column. Knowing that I'd be filling in for Reggie in Great Questions — while he cavorts around Italy — I decided to save it. Because it is a great question; one that every Bro has probably thought about no less than twenty-five hundred times from the ages of 3 to 9. So here goes nothing… Quite literally, this is a whole shitload of nothing. Prepare yourselves.
Would I love to pick a fantastical, comic book superpower? Of course I would, they're badass. But the problem is most of them just aren't practical. Flying wouldn't always be that useful, nor would having claws, or a bone-structure comprised entirely of an indestructible metal alloy, and accidentally becoming an overgrown, ornery green monster from time-to-time would be a tremendous drag on my sex life. This is REAL LIFE, people, not the movies, if I had any one of the aforementioned powers I wouldn't be called upon to save the world, I'd be using them for next to nothing. At most I'd save a few bucks on air travel or spend all of my time trying not to get agitated — something I don't excel at.
I also don't want to get this superpower or mutation and then realize I'm only marginally superior to a carnival freak show. So that rules out a lot of people from the X-Men. Most notably: Storm (whoopee, you can whip up some inclement weather), Rogue (let's face it, that's more of a disease than it is a power), the dude with the lizard's tongue (no doubt a prince at vagina licking, can't discount that), and the guy that literally worked at a carnival in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” using his power to turn on a light bulb — no one was happier when he finally died than him, I'm sure.
While I'm on a roll here, crossing things off my list, some other, more simple powers I'd enjoy having, like a super-charged metabolism, a flame shooting dick, and a wipeless asshole, aren't terribly sensible either, so I'll axe them too. Although I can't lie, not having to wipe would drastically reduce my carbon footprint.
Instead, what I want is a superpower that's non-detectable, can be used in everyday situations, and wouldn't hinder me from living an otherwise normal life. Here are my top three because Andy asked if we could choose three and since I'm the guest here, I'll comply.
I'm talking legit psychic powers. Not whatever gift it is Miss Cleo or Sly Stallone's mother claim to have. I want to glance into the future and see exactly what it holds. I want the ability to say “I told you so” more than any person ever in the history of human kind. I want to be a know-it-all that actually knows-it-all.
If you have this power you could make a good living by modestly betting on sports, playing roulette or blackjack, or even buying a huge lottery ticket JUST ONE TIME. You could also easily stay one step ahead of diseases or other personal catastrophes. Basically, you could have everything you ever need in life without making the least bit of effort. Being psychic is the nepotism of superpowers.
However, knowing what's going to happen before it actually does is a beautiful curse. As with most other superpowers, this too comes with its glaring pitfalls. Sure you could be wealthy and stop hundreds of tragedies, especially your own, but you'd be tortured by knowledge of what you can't control, those you couldn't save. For instance: If two natural disasters are going to strike at the same time and we only have enough resources and man-power to save one entire group, which one do you advise the government to save? The one with the most hot chicks, of course, but what if the answer weren't that easy?
2. Mind Reading
I already know what you're all thinking “you want to read girls' minds, see if they want to sleep with you, I get it.” No, you don't get it. I'm far more self-serving than just wanting a power to help me slay droves of chicks. In fact, toying with women is an ancillary perk of this power. Just imagine how easy life would be if you could read everyone's mind… Go on, imagine it.
In school, you'd never need to study, you could just use your power to read the mind of the smartest kid in the class during tests. In business, you'd read that same kid's mind and then verbalize his brilliant thoughts before him, capturing all the glory and that office with the sick view of another office building (no one said this fairytale was perfect). If you chose to go into another field, like professional coaching, you'd know all the opponents plays before they even ran them; it worked for the Patriots, surely it could work for you. Or maybe you want to play poker for a living? You'd be virtually unbeatable, as long as you knew the basic rules. And then finally, yes, you could get inside a lot of strange, provided your face isn't a heinous crime. But if it were, you'd know it since everyone would be thinking it as they past you. And that leads us to why mind reading isn't number one.
The obvious downfall to mind reading is hearing too much. Knowing what everyone thinks about you can't be healthy (Lindsay Lohan Googling herself has to be partially responsible for some of her demise, no?) and if you don't want the world knowing that you have this gift you can't exactly show your hand. So you'll have to bite your tongue when your boss keeps saying “God, I hate this fucking prick” to himself while talking to you or when you're at the family barbecue and your wife starts thinking about the girth of your brother's dick.
1. Super Speed
I went back and forth for literally minutes trying to decide if I wanted to be faster than homemade shit (no other kind, really) or have the ability to read people's thoughts. I settled on speed because I can't see a downside to this superpower. It's not anywhere close to being the best power for a superhero, but if you're going to apply it to a normal life and you harbor the ability to dial it back so you just look really fast and not a threat to national security, you can't really go wrong.
With insane speed, that you can control, you have the best of both worlds. You're able to make tons of cash by being a ridiculous athlete — even if you're not athletic you could still be the world's best Olympic sprinter — and you can get yourself and your loved ones out of trouble in a flash. Except if your in an airplane. Then I suppose you just have to bend over and let life serve you its dick.
Hugh Jackman's good looks
Andy Moore: I did research for this. Believe it or not, I did. I Googled “cool superpowers” because the Internet has rendered me incapable of any original thoughts anymore, and I stumbled across this Wikipedia page: “List of superhuman features.”
As you can see from clicking on the link (and I highly recommend you do), the page is broken down into “means of the powers,” “methods of powers,” and the actual powers. There are detailed rules judging what is and isn’t a power (Iron Man’s suit, for instance, doesn’t make it), and there’s a long conversation about how fictional “magic” powers fit into the list. (The general consensus seems to be that they belong in a different page.)
Please, just look at the amount of care and scholarly research that went into these tables. The vast number of references. The obscure superheroes only featured in, like, two early ‘70s comics. Just the general length of the thing! The entire document is 3,600 words. It contains 168 references, 32 more than the entry former secretary of state Condaleeza Rice. It is absolute insanity. It is what happens when a man, under anonymity, writes about superheroes for free and then finishes to go on a five-state killing spree.
What is the end result of all this? What is the ultimate accomplishment of Wikipedia entries like this (and there’s thousands on subjects way more obscure)?
I think it’s this: In 50 years, when we’ve all killed each other in a nuclear war, we’re going to somehow leave the Internet behind. And in 50,000 years, an alien species is going to land on Earth, and it’s going to take at face value what we spent most of all our time worrying about and writing about. And it’s going to judge that we worshipped cats, Snooki, and Wolverine.
Is this a bad thing necessarily? I don’t know. I only know this: I found it incredibly useful in finding my powers for a bullsh*t column on BroBible.com. So thank you, anonymous Wikipedia writers. You’ve enabled me to stay employed.
3. Animal morphing
I’m writing this next to my dog right now, and I’m struck, as I always am, by how much he kicks ass. How happy he is, how loyal he is, how focused he is on the important things in life: Food, attention, his ball. How much fun would it be to morph into a dog for a day or two, Animorphs-style, and see the world from that angle? Or a bald eagle? Or a dolphin? Or morph into a tiger and just run sh*t for a day? I’ve always wanted to do this (although not at the level of, say Gerald Broflovski) ever since I read that book series.
(Note: This is the second K.A. Applegate reference I’ve made in this column, which let’s you know that yes, I haven’t read a book in over a decade.)
2. Super strength
Did you see the Brian Cushing video we posted on the site yesterday? What I was struck by was how out-of-control it must be to know that you’re the baddest guy on a field and to know that nothing can hurt you. This feeling makes you do things like, oh I don’t know, headbutt an offensive lineman without wearing a helmet. It’s got to be somewhat empowering, to say the least.
This is what super strength would provide– it would let you know that nothing in the world can ever take you down, and you can intimidate anyone you want. Which sounds caveman-like, but c’mon, we all want that feeling.
1. X-ray vision
For obvious reasons.