hen my son was five-years old one of our favorite games to play was inventing our own superheroes. We would each describe what our hero would look like, where his headquarters was located, how his suit appeared, who his villains were, and— most importantly— what specific superpower each held.
My son has a very active imagination and was very good at the game, though he always used the same superpower. The costume changed, his lair was in a different location every time, and the outfit was tweaked on occasion. But his superhero’s superpower never changed. He wanted “the power of electricity.” One day he might wear a blue suit, the other day it might be yellow and purple, the superpower remained the same, the power of electricity.
Early on I tried to reason with him, “Look son, you can choose whatever you want. The choices are endless. You can be like Superman and fly through the air, see through walls, stand up to flying bullets, and lift very heavy things.”
“Nope. I want the power of electricity.”
He even named his superhero Electroman. When I told him that Marvel already had a superhero named Electro, he didn’t flinch. “That’s not the same,” he said. Can Electro travel through the electrical power lines outside and into someone’s house through the wires in the walls?” he asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Well Electroman can, and that’s what I do.”
“Have it your way.”
I was usually a character I made up called The Warlock. When my son told me that there was already a cartoon character named The Warlock, I used his reasoning and said, “Well mine’s different.”
My son and I played a lot of games like that and we could go on for hours creating situations for our superheroes. It was fun and imaginative and right in his wheelhouse at the time
In those days we attended a lot of superhero movies and he always dressed as the superhero in the movie’s title. I loved that. In his early years he entered theatres dressed as Superman, Spiderman, Wolverine, and Batman. Once, when he lost the upper half of the Batman costume and the lower half of a Hulk costume, he created a hybrid superhero that he called The Incredible Bulk.
Last week my wife and I attended a Harry Connick Jr. concert in Jackson. Midway through the concert, Connick was talking about how great the food is in Mississippi, what he had eaten before the show, and how full he felt. Then he stated, “If I could have one superpower it would be that I could eat all I want, whenever I want, not gain an ounce, and still be healthy.
Brilliant! I thought. Why hadn’t I thought of that back when my son and I were creating our own superpowers? I never knew that was an option. I want a do-over in the superhero game. I want THAT superpower! Flying is overrated, who needs to see through walls when one can just open a door and walk right in. Let’s face it, in my life I have yet to encounter a situation where I might need to be bulletproof. I can bench press 330 pounds, which is not too bad for a 54-year old fat guy, so I am strong enough on my own.
But that’s the point. I won’t be a fat guy with my new superpower. I’ll be that guy with the 32-inch waist who opened a restaurant 28 years ago. I could eat as many sweet rolls as I like (and that’s a lot, because I really, really like sweet rolls). With my newfound superpower I could visit Popeye’s more than once every three months. I think I would eat a lot of cake and pie, too. Though I would probably eat more cake than pie. I would probably eat so much cake that my new superhero name might be Cakeman. Cake is good.
I actually might eat cake with Popeye’s chicken stacked on top of the cake and have a dozen custard-filled donuts for dessert. Or, since it doesn’t matter, I could just have the custard-filled donuts for an appetizer, cake and chicken for an entrée, and a few quarts of Talenti sea salt and caramel gelato for dessert.
Unfortunately, I don’t get to choose a superpower, and sadly, my son and I don’t play that game anymore. These days he and I talk about things like summer jobs, football practice, and getting a learner’s permit to drive a car. Superpowers never enter the discussion. Though just once, I’d like to get him back into a superhero costume at a superhero movie during an afternoon matinee. Maybe after the performance I could take him out for ice cream, cake, fried chicken, and gelato.