Most every person in my generation remembers tying a towel to our shoulders or safety-pinning a small blanket there and running at breakneck speed with arms outstretched pretending to be a superhero. Actually, that's probably any generation, so don't try to deny that you had Superman pajamas or some other such outfit. Superheroes are characters with superhuman powers. That's the key. Very few children want to be a superhero because of the high-fashion, skin-tight outfit. We wanted the super powers. Many of us still do.
I stumbled across a survey from Marist Poll which asked people what superpower they would like to have. The choices were: flying, time travel, invisibility, teleporting, and mind-reading. So, which one would you like? I'll give you a moment to process through all these.
It turns out that there was a tie for the most-desired super power. The results showed 28 percent wanted the ability to read minds and 28 percent wanted to be able to travel through time. Flying scored 16 percent of the respondents, teleportation got 11 percent, and invisibility came in at 10 percent.
There were also 8 percent who said they were 'unsure' about the whole matter. I worry about some of the people who choose 'unsure' on a poll that is so obviously not based in reality. Come on, folks! Play along! I promise you won't be stuck as invisible for the rest of your life! I remember seeing the results of one of those telephone polls once. People voted by phone and each call cost 50 cents. The question was something like, “Do you think O.J. Simpson is guilty?” and sure enough, five percent of the people voted that they didn't know. Think about that a second. Those folks paid 50 cents a call to share the fact that they didn't have a clear cut opinion! Maybe if you don't have an opinion, you shouldn't participate in the poll -- especially if it costs you half a dollar.
Anyway, I find it a little surprising that the old Superman standby of flying only appealed to 16 percent. Maybe there are many people afraid of heights (not that I can imagine a superhero that can't rescue anyone for fear of falling). Another 11 percent chose teleportation instead, since after all, it takes a lot less time, and you don't have to worry about being dressed for the weather. Can you imagine how cold it would have been flying around this week in some spandex jumpsuit? Snapping your fingers to get there sounds much more appealing in this type of weather.
The invisibility thing surprised me too. I thought it would be more popular. I guess the point of being invisible is to be able to sneak up on people or watch them without being discovered. Of course, if you're invisible you also have to learn how to be very, very quiet or else the jig is up. The other disadvantage to invisibility is that unless you have an invisible spandex jumper (which are probably available online somewhere if you look hard enough), you have to be naked to be invisible. Then we're back to being out on a cold February day again. Being frostbitten would probably take the fun out of being invisible, but that's just a guess on my part.
Of the two winners in the poll, time travel should be popular because how many times have we said something like, “I wish I knew then what I know now.”? With time travel you can! Plus you can go back in time and see the important historical happenings. My own worry would be that I would do something that would cause a 'Back to the Future” type wrinkle in time and louse up my own birth or something. Can a person be time-clumsy? If so, I'm doomed.
Reading minds is really the safe answer. We get to find out what we're not supposed to know, and no one is the wiser. It's like looking at the answers in the back of the book or being in on an inside joke. That, and we'd get to call people liars and they wouldn't know how we figured it out.
As for me, I guess reading minds would be my choice, although there were plenty of super powers left out of the survey. What about super strength like Superman or the Incredible Hulk? Or maybe super speed like the Flash? Or the ability to talk to sea life like Aquaman? Wait. Scratch that last one. I don't really need to chat with my fish dinner. How about the ability to heal almost instantly like Wolverine? Shoot, at this point I'd settle for the super ability to do my own taxes. Now, THAT'S a power I could use!