It's Just a Bird

Joe Lavin's Humor Column

It's Just a Bird

June 27, 2002

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Who's your favorite superhero? Superman, for those who like their superheroes sturdy and dependable? Batman, for those who like their superheroes just a little bit bad? Spiderman, the superhero for the geek in all of us? Aquaman, well, because some of us just have to be different?

It's a simple question really, one that I should have been able to answer easily. But when I was asked this recently at a party, I had no idea. As I thought about it some more, I realized that I don't actually like any superheroes. Really, I'm fed up with the whole lot of them. Just because they can fly, see through anything, scale walls like an arachnid, or breathe through gills as the case may be, does that mean they have to act so uppity?

Honestly, I wish they would all just go away, and that includes you, Spiderman. I'm sorry. I've heard great things about your movie, but I'm still not seeing it. And I also won't be seeing whatever B-grade superhero they decide to make a movie about next summer. Haven't there already been enough superhero movies?

One of my favorite radio shows, This American Life, did a show about superpowers last year. John Hodgman went around and asked people which power they would prefer to have -- the power of flight or the power of invisibility. Being somewhat sneaky, I lean towards invisibility, but there doesn't seem to be a good choice. Having just one power would be somewhat useless. If I were invisible, sure, I could sneak around and spot crime, but could I stop it? And if I had the power of flight, I could certainly catch up to any rogue, but what would I do then? I would be like the dog that finally catches a car but doesn't know what to do with it. Frankly, I'm a bit of a wimp, so I'd probably just get pummeled by the bad guy.

I don't think I would want superhuman strength either. I think I would just end up causing a lot of accidental damage. And I'm sure I'd go through about a dozen alarm clocks a month. I doubt I could find a snooze alarm that could handle my superhuman strength in the morning.

And what's with this obsession about fighting crime? If I had superpowers, somehow I don't think I would spend my days apprehending bad guys. Instead, I would fly off to some exotic foreign city just to have lunch. Let the cops deal with all the petty crime. I've got some high living to do.

I'm not alone. Of all the people Hodgman asked, just about nobody was interested in fighting crime. Most chose invisibility purely for the shoplifting or peeping tom capabilities. One woman was excited about the possibility to go into Barneys and steal expensive sweaters. Another man chose flight because he figured there would probably be a lot of "flight groupies" who would want to sleep with the "flying dude."

As for me, I'm a little too lazy to be a superhero. The schedule seems daunting. Hey, just because I happen to be super, why should I work 24-7? On my current job, one that does not require superpowers, I have Wednesdays off. I think that as a superhero I would like to keep that schedule. And I'm not really a morning person either, so don't go calling me then. That's me time.

I guess I'd probably have to find a temp somewhere to fill in for me during all the times I'm not working. Do you think they have agencies for that sort of thing? Who knows? Maybe the Green Lantern is free. Either that or I'll just tell everyone that the Invisible Man is covering for me.

No, the whole superpower thing just wouldn't work for me. When I think about it, there's only one area in which I would excel. That's the part about having an unassuming alter ego. I've already got that part down.

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