The Misadventures of Aquaman

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
No one wants to be Aquaman.

Submitted: June 18, 2012

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Submitted: June 18, 2012

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I used to watch Heroes. Not religiously, but enough to understand the premise of the show: a group of seemingly ordinary people lives are changed due to their extraordinary abilities. The more of the show I watched, the more I thought about superhuman abilities. Over time, I arduously compiled a concentrated list of three powers that, if given the opportunity, I would willingly dip my hand into a container full of radioactive spiders for. Because popular mythology tells me that if one bit me, I could cut the crusts off my sandwiches with laser vision instead of the mere pedestrian knife. I imagined myself trimming the overgrown shrubs surrounding my family’s house with a single piercing stare. My parents would laud my work only to have me shrug in response saying, “Oh, it’s nothing really.” On the rare occasion that I cut a little too deep when annihilating a pesky hangnail, I would bring into use my second power, automatic cell regeneration (an idea I coincidentally acquired from the cheerleader on Heroes). My third and most recreational power would be shape-shifting. The benefits of such a capability are boundless. I could sneak into Harry Potter premiere parties disguised as the scruff on Daniel Radcliffe’s face or attend college classes for free—camouflaged as the liberal arts major’s ironic, thick black frame spectacles. 

Once I'd finished selecting my own abilities I found I had a taste for ascribing fictional abilities to real bodies. I became so enraptured by the idea that, when at birthday parties or 60th wedding anniversaries, I would often slink off into a corner and silently assign super powers to my peers based on their exterior presentation and/or general demeanor. During these ritual meditations, my friends would stare, puzzled, at me as if trying to read the content of my mind. I can only imagine what they saw; my jaw slack and my eyes glazed over in intense concentration. Their efforts were futile because based on my assumptions, none of them were telepathic. It should be noted that telepathy is wrong and invasive, even for superhuman-mutant-freaks. Also, no one likes the mind-reading super-people (e.g. Saturn Girl, Piccolo, and Mel Gibson when he took advantage of poor Helen Hunt in the farce What Women Want) unless they’re sparkling vampires like Edward Cullen in all his resplendent subtly pedophilic glory.

I soon discovered that designating extraordinary abilities to people without their consultation was more challenging than I had intended. The process took too much time and energy without any real reward for my hard work. Super decision making, as it turned out, would have been a much more helpful power. Hyperbole control would’ve been nice too, but a world without exaggeration is, like, the worst thing ever.

“What’s mine?” my cousin, Meredith, asked after I explained my plight. We were having dinner at Red Lobster. Well, she was having dinner, I was having biscuits.

“Um, that’s not important right now. Can you help me, please?”

“Not until you tell me what superpower you think I would have,” she demanded.

“FINE. Have you ever heard of Aquaman?”

“Sure, ‘Justice League’ or whatever.”

“Right, well, do you know what he does?”

“Talks to fish and crap,” she says confidently, but I can see the wheels beginning to turn in her head. No one wants to be Aquaman.

“Well, I always thought… I mean you wear so much blue. You have three fish tanks for goodness sake…”

Her cold glare cuts me off. “Don’t talk to me,” she says, returning to her plate of smoked salmon.

After that, I learned that if I was to complete the task, I had to be determined to get some help. So, I began asking and the burden lightened. Albeit, the answers were generic—super strength, time travel, etc.—but they came straight from the people themselves.

The reason I don’t write comic books or scripts to shows like Heroes is partly due to underage labor laws and partly because creating superhuman characters requires an extensive knowledge of people and their fears. For instance, I thought that my friend, Emily, would do well as a mind-controller as she is the most persuasive person I know. It turned out, however, that Emily had a fear of ceilings caving in on her, so she wanted the gift of force-field generation. Had I not asked, I would never have known this about my friend of eight years. Now, I enter every room with hesitance, looking up to scan for any cracks in the molding.

With every inquisition, I gained a new fear and a deeper understanding of the people around me. Now, when interacting with previously unknown mortals, the sentence No one wants to be Aquaman comes to mind. It reminds me that judgments based on exterior give you no clue as to what lies on the interior and that assumption of personality may leave someone isolated, with only fishes to talk to for company.


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