Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider. As a result, he became incredibly strong and agile and could shoot webs from his wrists and swing from skyscrapers.
I mean, sure, good for him. But what am I supposed to learn from that? Superhero myths are supposed to inspire us, right? Well, I just can't see how having spider powers would help me. I live in a small town sparsely populated by one- and two-story buildings, so swinging from them would arguably be the most inefficient way to travel. Webs spurting from my wrist probably would lead to more embarrassing misunderstandings than anything else. Super strength? How strong do you need to be to push a mouse around on a desk? And if I had any agility at all, I'd just turn into one of those showoff jerks in yoga class.
So yeah, Spider-Man is all well and good. But I think it's time for some new superheroes, ones with powers that would really be useful.
Attachment Man: Poked in the finger by a radioactive paperclip, Attachment Man has been granted the uncanny ability to never forget to include the email attachment. Along with his sidekick, BCC Man, Attachment Man fights a never-ending battle against hasty follow-up emails titled "Oops ... sorry - here's the attachment, for real this time. LOL."
Flossing Man: After sustaining a deep paper cut from the page of a radioactive desk calendar, Flossing Man now has the power to see the future - but only the future as it relates to his teeth and gums. So he flosses regularly. It doesn't matter how tired he is or that he's just watched three episodes of "Homeland" in a row and totally wants to crawl straight into bed without so much as even brushing his teeth. Nope. Flossing Man always - you guessed it - flosses.
Doesn't Drop Everything Just Because the Cat Walked Into the Room Man: Bitten by something radioactive, this marvelous specimen of concentration can let his cat walk in front of him without even flinching. Even if the cat rubs against his leg, his powers allow him to continue on with whatever time-sensitive and important thing he's working on and not bring his productivity to a screeching halt and play with the cat for the next half hour. Uncanny.
Knows Where His Car Keys Are Man: This hero's rare, non-radioactivity-based power primarily stems from the design of his costume, a standard skin-tight unitard with external briefs that includes one zippered front pocket. Over the years he's developed a solid habit of always putting his keys in that pocket. He doesn't just walk in the house at the end of the day and absentmindedly drop them anywhere. Nope, he puts them right in that pocket where they belong. Every single time. So they're always there. Now, it could be that his keys are radioactive. Until he fights Geiger Counter Man, we won't know for sure.
Doesn't Glance at His Cell Phone in the Middle of a Conversation Man: How does he do it? He can talk for hours with someone and never even so much as glance at his phone for incoming texts, tweets, missed calls, weather or sports stats. He doesn't even whip it out to look up pertinent music or movie trivia! And, for no apparent reason, he has a cape. So cool.
Has-Hair Man: Look! Up in the sky! It's a guy in his mid- to late 40s whose hair shows no signs of thinning. Save us, Has-Hair Man - save us from the unfair stereotypes of society! And look out! Behind you! It's your arch-nemesis, Male Pattern Baldness Genetic Predisposition Man. Fight, Has-Hair Man, fight your noble battle so that the rest of us may live!
Reads Something Other Than Comic Books Man: Bitten by a radioactive college professor, this ordinary schlub was bequeathed the powers of erudition. Previously unable to get more than a few pages into any publication that doesn't contain colorful pictures and the words "smash" and "clobber," our hero now reads nothing but really important things that make him look like he's real smart.
Checks Facebook Once a Day (If That) Man: Radioactive? You bet. This superhero has abilities that boggle the mind. He eats radioactive stuff for lunch. Probably. This marvel of modern humanity will check his Facebook account not 100 times, not 50 times, not even 10 times, but one time per day, usually right after lunch. Unless ... unless! ... it just totally slips his mind, in which case he'll check it the following day. Or not! What the ... ? Who says there are no heroes anymore?
Barry Smith's column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times.