The following piece was presented at Jersey City Writers’ literary event – Superheroes & Supervillains: A Night of Dynamic Dare-do-well and Dastardly Deeds. Please enjoy.
Dear Board for the Designation of Superpowers,
I’m writing you, again, because I’m really, really annoyed. You haven’t responded, so I’ll repeat it: I do not want to be a superhero.
When I first saw the recruitment posters, I thought: who wouldn’t jump at the chance to save humanity? Think of the time Batman stopped the Joker from detonating his hydrogen bomb suitcase in Times Square! Or Lex Luther and his Interplanetary Space Beam, used to send a huge asteroid hurtling towards earth. Superman was able to deflect it: even after Lex put a sliver of Kryptonite in his breakfast burrito. Now, everybody loves them. Who doesn’t want to be Wonder Woman, or Spider-Man? Imagine if you had Captain Marvel’s superhuman strength, or became the Human Torch? They have amazing names too: Hellboy, Green Lantern, the Incredible Hulk.
But on the day I was given my powers, you named me: John. I was surprised and confused. At first I didn’t know why everyone on the selection board was laughing. Then Sergeant Smirnoff got up and said, “I have to use the bathroom.” He looked at me, smiled, and I knew. I tried to run out, but against my will morphed into a: Port a John. That’s when I learned that while Spider-Man has the Green Goblin and Wonder Woman has Cheetah, my arch-nemesis is the vodka shits, coming out of a stage four alcoholic with the power to turn into a mini-bar whenever someone needs a drink.
I used to be a successful cardiologist. Now I can’t do that, because who wants to turn into a Johnny on the Spot while someone is having a triple bypass? The cost of malpractice insurance alone would make it prohibitive! Thank God I don’t have a wife and kids to support. It’s hard enough finding a girlfriend.
The most recent person I dated was Emily. We went out three times. At restaurants, I always made sure to reserve a table near the women’s bathroom, so she’d have a place to go before I activated. But, on the third date, we decided to take a hike. As you know, it’s a bit more difficult for women in the middle of the woods. I made some of my four-alarm chili, and on the way back, it didn’t take long to have an effect. I turned into an outhouse, which was convenient for her, and then a bit awkward, as it messed up my appearance for the way home. Needless to say, things didn’t work out for us.
All this has made me into a recluse. When I go to the pharmacy, post-office or grocery, it’s annoying. I try to get out of anyplace as quickly as I can, but more often than not, someone has to pee, or worse. If only there was Fresh Direct in the area.
My worst experience was two weeks ago. As I left the supermarket, I looked at a park across the street, filled with booths and tents and rides, set up for the Allendale County Fair. All the times it came through when I was a boy…the Supercoaster, the Whirl-Around, Cotton Candy, Fried Dough, the first girl I kissed: Naomi. The memories: my gosh! I just had to go. Before arriving at the funnel cake stand, I discovered two reasons why I shouldn’t be there: one inevitable, the other logistical. A lot of people had to use the toilet, and someone in charge forgot to rent port-a-potties. Guess who had to fill the role, and literally be a human waste receptacle for the next seven hours. You guessed it! Me! Yours truly! At any time, the line had at least 400 people waiting to unleash their greasy carnival food into one toilet. By the time I left, no one was able to recognize me.
I’m not asking, I’m pleading. Lift this responsibility from my shoulders, or at least, change my powers. If you want me to cure constipation, I’m fine with it. Or, for those with flatulence, I could be Gas-Ex Man, and maybe even have a sidekick: Beano-Boy! Wouldn’t that be great? You can laugh at my expense. That’s fine. But don’t turn me into a latrine, or you’ll be responsible for the extra fee I have to pay whenever I bring my superhero suit to the dry cleaners.
I hope you consider my offer,