Everyday heroes: With great power comes … this?

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith
Writing Switch
The businessmen playing with chair
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

What if you could like, fly, or had X-ray vision? These are the dangerous, hypothetical games middle-schoolers of today are playing in their crawlspaces during sleepovers ­… and have been for years.

Never content with these options, and because God invented airplanes and the dark web, this week Ben and Sean turn their accellerated brains toward superpowers they wish they had ­— or already possess — which will vastly improve humanity, or at least relieve the torment that is this itchy, bubonic existence called peoplekind.


SB: Translation Man seems like such a boring superhero on the surface. You’re not beating up anyone or throwing SUVs or really able to defend yourself against typical super villains.

However, you would be able to understand every being in the universe — and that includes animals. Now, like most of these columns, the ideas aren’t fully thought out. I’m not sure if talking back to them is something I would want. I’m trying to negotiate with aliens Samuel L. Jackson “Negotiator” style, not be a glorified Dr. Doolittle.

Also, think about how valuable Translation Man would be to historians. Dead languages could be resurrected and any and all hieroglyphics would be decipherable, and that’s like 85% of Indiana Jones’ genius. He’s not a superhero per se but, hey, f— Nazis and Batman doesn’t have abilities either.

It’s a win for all of humanity, but I’m iffy on how many enemies he would spawn. That said, even if the streets are quiet, he could make plenty of cash as the best travel agent of all time. If you know Japanese, you can work in Hawaii tomorrow. Seriously, look it up.


BW: Every superhero needs an origins story. The first time I realized I had the power of invisibility — or at least, the first time I was old enough to comprehend it — was in Boy Scouts (RIP) during the seventh grade. For Ivan’s Eagle Scout project, we restored a trailhead in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains in December. I was wearing jeans because as a fashion-forward homeschooler that’s all I owned, and also I’d outgrown my snow boots (size 6 represent!) so I just had plastic shopping bags over my tennis shoes and was probably also rocking a cold. Defrosting and sneezing in the ride back home was more tenths of an orgasm than my 12-year-old body could accommodate.

At our next troop meeting, Ivan personally thanked and gave cards to everyone who helped fulfill his destiny. Well, almost everyone. “Um, Brad, were you there?” he sort of asked in my direction. I just gave my trademark wide-eyed wall stare until he went away. Ivan better hope I’m never at the bottom of his belay rope.

Now, this ability comes in handy when I’m empty at the pub and don’t want a refill, but would rather just watch the bartender wipe the counter and completely ignore me. That desire presents itself very rarely but I often seem to enable the gift on accident. What do you mean you need to see my ID? Dude, we’ve ridden chairlifts together. We’re friends on Facebook. Remember?

Other townies I have been introduced to no less than 20 times look at me like I have three heads as they extend their hands and say “Matt? Good to meet you.”

Anyway, I said for my whole life I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do, and people are starting to notice.


SB: I once wrote a college essay for a serious research class about the most marketable athlete of all time. The paper initially received a D primarily because I didn’t use any real research other than what was at the time between six and eight hours of ESPN consumption per day.

I was probably deserving of the grade but then something dope happened. As each student was presenting their end-of-semester papers and the only person asking questions was the professor, the response to my paper was overwhelming to the point that the teacher had to stop the discussion because we would’ve ran out of time for the rest of the predictably forgettable yet well-researched essays. Homie bumped me up to a C- and I passed the class.

No, the power isn’t being an incredible bullshitter; it’s certifying my credentials as an expert on the marketability of athletes. While my concoction presented to the panel of 20-some UNO students was a combo of pre-dogfighting Michael Vick and Peyton Manning, my preferred super athlete would be an extraterrestrial fusion of Zion Williamson and Vince Carter.

Can you imagine dropping the House of Highlights version of the Wuxi Finger? Just obliterating a poor, unassuming Latvian 7-footer’s existence? It’s incomprehensible. VC Bill Buckner’ed Fredric Wies and made him the business end of a highlight on a loop for infinite. Zion hasn’t done that — yet.

Zionce Carterson would crash Instagram multiple times a week.


BW: Everyone knows about the “piss window,” right? Say you’re at a friend’s house and need to drop a deuce. You can’t just disappear into the bathroom for 25 minutes, so you have to speed poop in the time it would take you to pee, and hence avoid suspicion. I have the opposite problem.

The human body is 80% water or whatever, but I think when the storks were making me at the factory they accidentally stuck those extra moisture reservoirs into my bladder. This is helpful in many situations. For example, I don’t even know what an airplane restroom looks like. I’ve never woken up at 4 a.m. and darted for the bathroom (to pee … barf, yes). I can wait for the party’s host to use the facilities, steal his stuff, and still not soil myself during the police car ride or jail inprocessing.

To test the limits of my power, I once drank over 100 ounces of liquids without urinating and went to Belly Up. I was only mildly uncomfortable and could’ve kept going, but my waistband was in serious duress and all the sloshing noises from me jumping around (that’s how I dance) were beginning to distract the artists.


SB: It would be unfathomable to be able to write something that would exist as long as humans are a species. To be able to say, “Yo, you know that ‘To be or not to be?’ joint? That was me.” I think anyone who has ever thought about putting pen to paper for a living has thought about being taught in schools for the foreseeable future. It’s not unreasonable to say. If you’ve played basketball, you’ve thought about being Michael Jordan.

That said, I don’t know if Billy Shakespeare knew how insane his legacy would be but you can imagine he had some idea it was significant because he went by William. I think that’s half the reason people pay Michael Bay millions of dollars to make movies. You think if he went by Mike Bay, movie studios would fork over $20 million for “The Rock”?

Wait, I take that back. The man behind the best non-James Bond Sean Connery movie ever made deserves bottomless paychecks regardless of all his #MeToo transgressions.

Sorry, not sure where I was going with that or to take sides against Megan Fox. Maybe I should take things more serious … or add an “athon” to the end of my name. Maybe y’all would get Seanathon Beckwith’s pop culture references.


BW: He loves a nice, palpable anxiety. The kind that gives you pressure in the little bones behind your ears and you wonder if another mutant is trying to hack your mind. Sexual tension? Mmm, yes please. Coworkers yelling at each other and throwing desk supplies around the room? He’s biting his cheeks raw trying not to laugh. Gross social media profile picture? He’s got a gallery full.

Capt. Pants doesn’t give a shit, because he knows when you live in a small town for almost six years, everyone will hate you eventually. He’s honestly disappointed in himself that it took this long, but the world is changing for pajama-clad superheroes. Slight him in any way, and he’ll ghost you so fast, you’re not even fully dead to him yet. He’s hitting “block and remove” on a whim, and he’s definitely not peeking through the windows at Zane’s before entering to avoid potential weird scenarios. He knows if they arise, he’ll just stare his adversary down while succulently shoving cheesy totchos into his face. Or you know, he could simply avoid them for the rest of eternity. Either/or.

Ahh, you think “cringey” is your ally, but you merely adopted the awkwardness. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t have a normal conversation with anyone until I was already a man. By then it was nothing to me but annoying! (I meant “he,” not “I,” because this is the completely fictional Captain Awkward Pants quoting Bane and not Ben Welch).

There’s a pop culture reference for you, Seanathon.

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