With the new promo for Heroes Reborn getting wary praise and superhero movies a constant presence in theatres, people with big badass powers seem to be all the rage. I find myself more fascinated with the concept of micropowers: small deviations from the norm that provide an advantage. Have you ever considered your own superpowers, even if they’re micro in scale?
For example, I don’t react to poison ivy or poison oak. Once when I owned a home in the Shenandoah Valley, my parents visited and helped me clean out the brush at the back of my property. The next day they were both covered in itchy welts while I was unscathed. It’s not much of an origin story. That micropower facilitates my heroic deed of pulling the poison ivy along our fence every year and sparing my husband some days of itchy madness.
I can digest lactose as an adult. This might not sound like much, but researchers estimate that at least 65% of people in the world — and over 90% in some populations — lose the ability after weaning. Advantage granted? Well, this is indeed micro: I only have to carry enough Lactaid in my purse for my husband and I can eat all the ice cream I want without gastric problems. Hmm. On second thought, let’s not underestimate the ability to eat lots of ice cream. (Side note to supervillains unaware of my power: imprisoning me in a cage made of Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream would be a terrible thing to do. Terrible!)
I’m weirdly flexible. Not quite as bendy as Mr. Fantastic, but enough that my yoga instructor often has to give me a more challenging version of a pose, and positions that I consider comfortable and relaxing seem like bizarre contortions to others. I wish I discovered this as a child, when it might have been useful for sports or dancing! Now it’s useful for things like scratching every part of my back by myself. Whoopee. However, this is a superpower with a built-in vulnerability: I can be more susceptible to injury. Tighter tendons and stiffer joints might have prevented the hyperextension that broke my leg last month.
Anyone out there have a fun or useful micropower to share? I’ve been considering this topic in some of my writing — or lately, in some of my thinking about writing, because I’m finding it hard to be productive — and I think small powers can be just as fascinating to explore as the world-changing ones. Maybe not advantages as tiny as mine, but somewhere between lactose tolerance and time travel, there’s a sweet spot.