In college, Fred Van Lente played a game with his friends called “Stupid Powers,” in which each of them had just such a useless magical ability. They could, however, deploy these at will for whatever they were worth, making the concept a kind of junior varsity version of the X-Men. Maybe not all magical powers have ambitions for greatness. Who are we to judge them?
Stealing the basic concept from Fred, I wrote a novel called SuperQueers that I’ve since put on the back burner, not quite trunking it. I need to be happier with how I’ve executed the story before I’ll query it—even the unpublished have their standards. But I do love the stupid powers in that book, and I’m always on the lookout for new ones to acquire because one never knows what it will take to save the world, when the time comes. Why couldn’t it come down to the ability to know how to swear in extra-terrestrial languages?
My ongoing watch for the stupid yet powerful has yielded a few gems since Emile was born 9 days ago. These include:
- Able to place eye directly in path of baby urine stream, no matter where in the room dad and baby are located.
- Able to dress baby with one hand, in the dark, as long as inside-out clothing is not grounds for disqualification of stupid power (See: locality restrictions).
- Able to sooth screaming baby with medley of poorly remembered show tunes from childhood, creating a new genre of crossover musical numbers that span generations, songwriters, and moral messages. (Note: Could potentially serve as new hymnal for not-yet-invented religion; See: L. Ron Hubbard.)
- Able to make spouse swoon with love, esp. when delivering a pastry treat or removing a screaming baby (See: previous item).
I don’t wonder what week 2 will bring, mostly because I’m just trying to get through each moment as they crash over me, but also because all of these little foot kicks, spontaneous gurgling, and arm gestures are so amusing in and of themselves, I’m enjoying it all as it happens.
Even if I don’t save the world with this stuff, I’m excited to be a superhero for my wee one, and however long this lasts is fine by me.