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We are in the season for power outages, which means that we need to be prepared for the possibility of of extended periods of darkness and quiet. On principal, I have no problem with darkness and quiet, but I find that it is important to be prepared and have on hand two important things – candles and conversation.
The candles can be a bit problematic; I sometimes forget to replace them when they have burned out, but in my family, we never suffer from a lack of conversation. Blackouts are usually the time when we engage in what we call, situational hypotheticals, or, what ifs. Over the years we have covered all sorts of interesting impossible possibilities such as, what if we could time travel? Would we go forward or backward in time? Where would we go? Who would we want to meet? What would we do when we got there? What would we take with us into the past, other than antibiotics, cold medicine, and a bar of soap, of course? What if you were king of the world? What things would you abolish and what kind of people would you make into royal janitors, other than bankers, lawyers, and annoying celebrities? These hypothetical discussions are usually extremely amusing and have been plenty of fun over the years and have become something that we save exclusively for loss of power and long car trips.
During the last blackout my son had two friends over who, being the generation that they are, spend a good deal of their free time plugged into some electronic device that is plugged into an outlet. When they are without power they do the obvious – pull out their phones. My son and I do not have smart phones. Our phones are pretty stupid and they function only as senders and receivers of calls, a choice we both made consciously and without regret, just as we did when we decided to get rid of cable TV. Personally, I find smart phones as an inducement for people to be completely rude and utterly without imagination. Smart phones – stupid people.
After all available candles were lit and the room was reasonably illuminated, my son and I discussed what would be our hypothetical discussion for the duration, and decided on the following question: if we could chose one super power what would it be, why would we choose it, and what would we do with it? We started out by naming all the super powers we could remember from any fictional source. There were the usual, of course, super strength, the ability to fly, power over the elements like fire and ice and water, power to control the weather, super speed, etc, etc, etc. This took some time as there seem to be quite a few super powers that have sprung from the imaginations of science fiction and comic book writers over the years. They must get kind of desperate trying to think of a new one and often repeat themselves with minor variations. During our listing of possible super powers the two numb-nuts with their faces illuminated by the sickly electronic glow from their devices would occasionally chime in with a super power we had missed while simultaneously poking at their little phones. I told them that they were allowed to participate only if they put away their toys, which made sense anyway since preservation of power was somewhat of an imperative. Duh.
Once the phones were stowed away, we continued the discussion. My son decided that he would opt for invulnerability and the power to heal no matter what the injury. We talked about the consequences of having such a power for awhile, both positive and negative. On the up side, never having the flu, any horrible disease, or fatal injuries seemed like a good thing. On the other hand, super healing doesn't necessary mean you wouldn't suffer from super pain and being alive when everyone you ever loved or cared about is dead seemed a little depressing. One of my son's friends opted for invisibility because you could go anywhere and do anything without being seen, including sitting in on the secret meetings of powerful people and finding out what they were up to. I told him that I didn't need a super power for that because I already knew what they were up to – no good.
I opted for super speed. Since super powers don't necessarily eliminate the boring, tedious, and time consuming tasks of daily life, I decided that it would be much more efficient if I could do them really fast. Imagine cleaning your entire house in 8 seconds, or mowing your lawn in 3. If you had super speed you could sleep in late everyday because it would take you about 2 seconds to get ready in the morning. If you wanted to see the sun set over the Grand Canyon you could just pop out there in about a minute and pop right back after it set. Wouldn't it be nice to go out for take out and actually get it home while it's still hot? I'm a practical girl.
My son and his friends pointed out that super speed would have certain drawbacks, like I might be able to go really fast but a mechanical lawn mower couldn't, and that getting ready in the morning might be a problem because I would be moving faster than the water could come out of the shower head. Then there was the little problem of all my clothes burning off from friction. Like all our hypothetical musings, the inherent problems with things like time travel, ruling the world, and super powers are numerous and daunting. What a buzz kill. By the end of it I was wishing for electromagnetic powers so I could bring back the power and they could all plug themselves back in to their devices and leave me alone.
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