the lesser known superpowers

By Toni McGee Causey


I must’ve
dug in that big, yellow box for fifteen minutes, the first time. Just could not
believe I wasn’t finding what I was searching for. Damn them. I wasn’t just
looking for the prize. I was searching for
. Dug around the outside of the waxy paper bag the cereal had come in.
Slid my hand down the flat of the wide sides first, scrabbling my fingers below
the bottom of the bag, feeling the rough cardboard against my knuckles. And
coming up empty. Then retreated, reorganized. Listening for my mom. Pushed my scrawny
little wrists down the skinny sides of the box, thinking it was wedged there. Still. Nothing.

Surely they
wouldn’t have buried it in the cereal?

Okay, fine.
Shoved my hands down in the cereal. (I don’t know how old I was. Probably old
enough to know that I wasn’t supposed to be shoving my hands down into the
cereal.) (I only did that to the cereals I didn’t like and knew I wasn’t going
to eat) (oops) (Of course, I could have gotten down the big bowl, poured the
cereal into it, searched for the toy, gotten it, returned all of the cereal
back into the bag, bag back into the box, box back into the pantry, but then I’d
have had to also clean out the bowl and put it up and I ask you… you’re
standing there with eight things to do or you know you have a little brother—the
same little brother who thought it was hysterical to DRUM on your door, day in
and day out, 24/7, using your head sometimes as the crash cymbal, yes, THAT
little brother—and you can use said little brother as a fall guy, what would you
do, hmmmmmmmmmm?)

Then, most
of the time, there was the finding the plastic toy, and it was always simply
that: stupid, plastic. Nothing close to the real thing.

I wasn’t
disillusioned. I just knew I hadn’t found it
yet. And it was out there.

I knew that
finding it was just a matter of perseverance.

Looked into
all of the Cracker Jack boxes. (Hated Cracker Jack. I don’t think my parents
realized ‘til years later why I would agree to a box of the damned stuff. My
brother, though, was good for getting rid of whatever I didn’t want to eat.
Younger brother, very handy to have sometimes. Especially if someone is going
to get into trouble for digging in the cereal box.)

Still, it
was not there.

I was pretty
convinced. Some people had superpowers.
They had to have found them somehow.

Tried the
towel pinned around the neck thing. (Turns out, this will not make you

Tried the
wiggle-your-nose-to-make-something-float-to-you thing. (Not highly recommended
to be done in front of witnesses.)

managed anything close to the supersonic hearing, although I am CERTAIN my
parents had this one and have NEGLECTED to mention exactly how they got it. (My
dad has selective supersonic hearing.
I want that.)

Scoured the
hell out of my brother’s comic books, though I was old enough by then to
understand that maybe superpowers weren’t ever really going to happen. (I’m
still not 100% sure I’ve given up all hope.) (My brother, by the way, forgave
me for the cereal boxes.) (Well, last year.) (I think.)

Then one
day, my little brother and my (slightly barely hardly at all younger, ha, she
is going to kill me) cousin, Danette, and I were together while our parents
visited. We’d pretty much exhausted our imaginations, and there were no such
things as video games, wargaming, internet, iPods… (YOU, YES, YOU THERE IN THE
of complete desperation to keep them from arguing, I made up a story. I have no
clue what the point of that story was, but in it, we were superheroes (with
some sort of super bus or super car, I was just radical with the transportation
there). And Mike and Danette were quiet. Completely quiet, the entire time, and
if I tried to bring it to an end, they’d ask for more. And then the next time
Danette visited, they wanted the story… first.

I was
hooked. Hot DAMN, a superpower.

Do you
remember that Daffy Duck cartoon Daffy_duck_2
where he’s all determined and snatching
something away from Bugs, claiming, “Mine, mine, ALL MINE,” and it blows up on

Now I
realize that a bunch of other people
have the same superpower, but we are still going to call it a superpower
because that is a LOT cheaper than paying for therapy. And I also realize that
a lot of these other people have this same ability but in the MEGA HUMONGOUS
SUPER WATTAGE size… they are sort of like the Superman with all of the bullets bouncing
off and I’m over here with my little silver surf board thingie and the only
thing I may be able to do is surf around, but by God, I’m going to do it with
enthusiasm, so I’m happy.

having not completely given up the idea that there still may be another
superpower out there that I have that I’ve missed, I’ve thought about this.
(Yes, the fever is fine, why do you ask?) Those superheroes, with their cool
superpowers—they suffered. They had a
lot of angst. Sometimes they didn’t realize just how valuable their superpower
was, even though others could see it clearly. Which got me to thinking that
maybe I actually have a superpower,
but it’s just not something that I realize
is a superpower. Because God knows I have angst! Plenty of it! It would fit the
pattern! All was not lost! So I thought long and hard about the things I’m
really exceptionally good at, and my list looks something like this:

1) Able
to detect anyone even thinking about
drinking the last diet coke in the house

2) Able
to shove an entire two rooms’ worth of junk into ONE closet, and still find

3) Um.
Hmm. Wait… wait. Hmmm. Did I mention the diet coke thing?

Okay. Well.
Maybe not.

But how
about you? Did you want a superpower as a kid? And right now, what is your
superpower? (I know you have one.)


CONTEST: just stop in and say HI or name your superpower (or name someone else’s, it’s all good).

Remember, it’s CONTEST MONTH — every commenter on today’s post will be eligible for a signed copy of BOBBIE FAYE’S VERY (very, very, very) BAD DAY as well as a hot-off-the-press, not available in the stores ’til the end of the month BOBBIE FAYE’S (kinda, sorta, not exactly) FAMILY JEWELS. Excerpts from book 2 are now up HERE. Winner from this week to be announced on next Sunday’s blog.

WINNER FROM LAST WEEK — Lisa Richardson! (Can I just tell you all how blown away I was? I know it was a holiday type of entry, but I wanted to thank every single one of you who took the time to stop by and email. I was floored.)

Like last week, I put the names in a hat and my neighbor chose. So Lisa, please email me at toni [dot] causey [at] gmail [dot] com with your
address and I’ll get your signed copies mailed out to you this week!

42 thoughts on “the lesser known superpowers

  1. Laura (in PA)

    Hi, Toni! So glad you told Mike and Danette that story, since I’m the one now who gobbles up your story and keeps asking for more. 🙂

    My superpower? Hmmm. Does the ability to be blind to the state of the house while I’m reading count? Or hearing chocolate calling me from several rooms away? Probably not.

    I’ll have to think on it some more.

  2. cj lyons

    Hey, Toni! Great blog–you know dogs are great scapegoats for eating all that spilled cereal, too–my little sis and bro were tattlers, so I never trusted them to take the fall without squawking!

    Here’s my “super power”, although it’s somewhat in retirement right now: I can communicate with alien beings. Namely, young children and cats.

    This developed even before I became a pediatrician–I was in school, shopping at a cheap Asian market when the woman running it began screaming. I turned to see a little boy, maybe three, holding a hugemongus, fifty-pound (okay, maybe not fifty, but that sucker was heavy!!!) solid metal, super sharp meat cleaver…he held it by one hand on top, the wicked sharp edge pointed down over his other hand, tummy, and feet.

    His mother’s screaming startled him and he began crying, looked like he was going to drop it, amputate pieces and parts any second, when I stepped between him and mom, began talking to him, nonsense words really, and he looked up at me, smiled and handed me the cleaver.

    It was so heavy, I could barely lift it myself, have no idea how a kid his age got a hold of it or managed to hold on without cutting off vital parts.

    The mom hugged him, bagged my groceries, over charged me and forgot half of my order on the counter (didn’t realize until I was home trying to make mooshu without plum sauce) and never made eye contact–her attention was riveted to her kid who was now happily playing with Matchbox cars….

    Anyway, I think you’re right and we all have superpowers if you’re just open to seeing them!

    Of course, maybe that’s someone else’s superpower–to tell the rest of us what our superpowers are???

  3. billie

    Superpowers! Mine is knowing where everything is in the house. I have no idea how it all gets stored in my brain, but everyone here asks me for everything they can’t find. Which is a LOT.

    I must walk around and snapshot every surface with my eyes.

  4. Kathleen G.

    You just gave me my first belly laugh for the day. My superpower tended to change with my locale, situation, and level of boredom, but I was always fond of attempting Jedi Mind Tricks.

  5. JDRhoades

    I have a couple of very minor ones:1. Cats instinctively like me and even notoriously unfriendly ones will run up to me to be petted.2. I’m very good at deciphering acronyms.

  6. R.J. Mangahas

    Mild-mannered writer R.J. Mangahas, has no powers. Give me a moment, will you? (Removes glasses). But AUTHOR GUY, has a few super powers. They are as follows:

    1. Makes people laugh, A LOT (not even necessarily through writing all the time)

    2. The uncanny ability to crash through writer’s block at the strangest times

    3. Can get a great deal on first edition books that he’s hunting for

    These are but a few of AUTHOR GUY’s powers. But as he is new to this whole superhero gig, more powers may emerge with the proper training.

  7. Mario


    Great blog. If I had a superpower, it would be to wear a super hero costume and not look silly. I’m still trying to live down going to my senior prom while wearing a Batman outfit. I thought I looked so cool (although the costume was a little baggy because I weighed 107 pounds at the time). I went alone because for some reason my date forgot to wash her hair.

  8. NS Foster

    I have two super powers, actually, ultra-super because they’ve been honed over years of use.

    The first is to spill more than anyone thought humanly possible to spill. It’s near me, it’s going over.

    The second is to merge with traffic. Every time I get on the highway, be it rush hour or 2 AM, there is not a soul behind my car for a good kilometer or so.

    Though, I’ll be honest, I was a comic book kid and I’ve always thought they were genetically modified Xpowers instead of real super powers 😉

  9. toni mcgee causey

    Laura, thank you, and OF COURSE sensing chocolate is a superpower. I’m not 100% sure, but it may just be THE ONLY ONE THAT COUNTS, and you’ll have a lot of us lined up to benefit. (That blind eye to the house? Definitely a minor one, but only when employed by moms and not when employed by kids who are nose-to-the-controller, playing video games.)

    And CJ — geez. That would have scared the living hell out of me. My one huge fear with my sons was them playing with something like a knife or hatchet or something while camping or getting their camping gear ready. No matter the age, I still find myself involuntarily clinching, as if I can somehow magically protect them from a distance.

  10. toni mcgee causey

    billie! sometimes, I swear we are twins. I do that snapshot thing, too, but I know it’s more from the fact that it’s just easier to yell from the other room, “Inside the pantry… no… to your left (based on the sound of their voice)… a little more… now look up… yeah… eye level… there it is” than it is to get up and trudge in there and hand them the damned thing.

    This would be one of those times I really REALLY wanted telekinesis or to at least be able to make something sparkle from a distance.

  11. toni mcgee causey

    Kathleen! the Jedi mind trick! How could I have forgotten that. (oh. um. well. we all probably know why, because I no longer have a functioning brain, but we’re going to look away and whistle now….)

  12. toni mcgee causey

    Dusty, the cat thing is cool, but WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU WHEN I HAD TO DECIPHER YMMV? Geez, I couldda used some help there. (Your Monkeys May Vote was the reigning choice until someone finally filled me in.) (And for those of you who are acronym challenged, like moi, YMMV = your mileage may vary) There are a bunch of them I still haven’t figured out, so now I know who to stalk to find the answers.

    (Hey! Wait! Is stalking a superpower? Pretty please?)

  13. toni mcgee causey

    RJ, that laughing thing is fantastic, but do you farm out that block-crashing thing? Because seriously, that could come in handy about two weeks before a deadline.

    Mario, if ANYONE ON THE PLANET could pull off a super costume, it’d be you. Because seriously, you are already cool.

  14. toni mcgee causey

    NS, I *want* that merging superpower. ANY CHANCE at all you’d trade it? The diet coke thing is reallllly handy, I swear.

    Stephen, ouch. That one hurts, even if it’s for the greater good. (We could stand you by the bad guys’ windows! Ruin their homes AND give them the flu at the same time. A coup.)

  15. Margie Lawson

    Toni –

    I love your brain. It’s a super power. :-)))

    My super power is reading minds. Honest!

    I read nuanced nonverbals and interpret them correctly. I’ve been honing this super power for decades. It’s a handy power for psychologists — and writers. :-)))

    Most people don’t know that the lips are the most expressive facial feature. Minute tightening, barely parted lips, a lip twitch — every quiver carries meaning. Licking lips, and showing the tip of the tongue? Whoa! Huge unconscious tells.

    My super power empowers my writing, and gives me more insight into what people are truly feeling. With my super power, I have a super life.

    Others can develop their mind reading power too. But don’t tell everyone. We’d all have to wear masks!

    TONI — You deserve an award for your Mother’s Day blog. :-)))

  16. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Superpowers? Oh, yeah!

    1. I can make our dog, a large yellow Lab, jump straight up like a Masai warrior (about as high, too)and put his paws together as if he’s praying.

    2. I can get the above-mentioned hound to sing with me — in key.

    3. If given enough time, I can turn any defeat into a win (a life lesson at the least).

    4. I can still psyche out my kids.

  17. Louise Ure

    Well, I still have that flying dream so maybe that’s the superpower I really want.

    Up until this year, my superpower was a memory for numbers. The phone number of the dog sitter I called four years ago. The final line on my income tax return from 1990.

    But that got shattered this year when all of a sudden I couldn’t remember my mother’s phone number. Now that’s scary.

  18. Stephen Blackmoore

    I have two.

    I can bend in such a way that I can firmly plant my foot in my mouth at the most inopportune moments. Particularly when I’m drunk.

    And I’m really good at catching fire. Like the human torch. Only with, you know, more pain. And screaming. Less flying, though.

  19. Terri Molina

    You also have the superpower to make me laugh…okay, I’m easily amused…but still. ;-P

    My superpower is I have the ability to read minds…mostly my husband’s or kids….and I can smell cigarettes and alcohol on someone’s breath a mile away (which really only works on my husband…my kids are too scared, and young, to test it)

  20. R.J. Mangahas

    Toni–I could try to farm out that block crashing thing, but unfortunately, I never know when it will strike. Perhaps I can learn to tome it with people’s deadlines?

  21. Pammy D

    When I tripped while powerwalking I flew through the air for several seconds. I thought my superpower would be rotating my body through flight like that girl in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and landing safely on the grass.

    When I hit the concrete after NOT rotating in flight, and shattered my arm, I realized this flight thing was definitely not my super power.

    I did however get to see, up close and personal, Viggo Mortenson in the frozen foods aisle at the grocery store immediately after my trip to the Emergency Room. (Hot.) And I hung out with Busta Rhyme’s posse at the Orthopaedic doctor’s office a day later. We talked bling. Could those be construed as a Super Power?

    And in all my years of driving I successfully avoided a couch in my lane on the freeway during a bad rainstorm. A Love seat, in my lane, on a different freeway at night. And this week ran over a full length construction ladder, in my lane, on the 405 FWY in LA and did not get killed. Is this a Super Power?

  22. toni mcgee causey

    Margie, man, I *wish* my brain was a superpower. (But thank you.) And wow, I want those observational skills. I would love to see you observe an interrogation. 😉

    Pari, I love all of yours (my dog does exactly one trick, which is to shed the volume of another dog, daily, no matter what we do to get rid of the fur, short of a full shave… which she is about to have). I’d really love that psyche the kids out thing, though. I’m not sure I ever had that one.

    Louise! I had that number one, too, until about three or so years ago. I used to be able to pull out phone numbers and such from years earlier… now I’m lucky if I remember my own.

  23. toni mcgee causey

    Stephen, a heartfelt OW OW OW OW OW. Okay, stop doing that second one. Crispy is not the new black.

    Terri – (thank you)… and you forgot shooting pool. (No, do not say it was not a superpower, because I lost and we don’t want me to be ALL DEPRESSED ALL OVER AGAIN.)

  24. toni mcgee causey

    RJ, I think you’d make a fortune, if you could.

    Pammy, the successfully avoiding large items in the freeway is definitely a superpower. And what the hell are these people doing in L.A.? Do they not know that just because it’s named a “freeway” does not mean it’s there for storage?

    (I still say anyone from Louisiana would have stopped and strapped that ladder back onto their car. Even if they had to use their pants to do it. You just do not leave a perfectly usable ladder behind.)

  25. Double T

    ToniYou make me laugh, I remember doing the cereal thing with my little brother Butch, too. Only we always had a dog to help clean up the mess. My “superpower” is being able to locate something in the house even though I’m at work and the kids are calling me, “Mom, have you seen my homework-backpack-school project,…” The superower I wish I had was to snap my fingers and the housework would be done. Because lets face it, doing the single mom thing, work, fix supper,little league, school functions,it is hard to get things done. And the dogs and the cat are no help either. I tell them to fold clothes and pick up things before I leave in the morning and when I get home I find them scattered all over. The cat is sleeping in the laundry basket and the little dog has socks strung all over. The big dog (who I swear has an IQ of 140)gives me that look like “I tried to tell them mom but they just wouldn’t listen.”I love the mothers day blog and hope you and your mom had a great mother’s day

  26. JT Ellison

    I have no superpower, alas. I wanted to be the first female firefighter in Colorado — but someone else beat me to that (I was 5) and I’ve been at a loss for superpowers ever since.

    But Toni,you have the superpower I want most now, as an adult. To make people laugh!

  27. toni mcgee causey

    Double T, if you ever get that “snap your fingers” superpower, we’d have to get you bodyguards, because people would go a little crazy wanting to share. 😉 And thanks for the compliment! We had a great day. Hope you did, too.

    Pooks. You are evil. Which I admire, greatly.

    JT, you SO have a superpower (you encourage people ALL OF THE TIME and see positives when some of us are a little grumpy and annoying). You make people feel great about themselves. If that’s not a superpower, hon, I just don’t know what is.

  28. Terri Molina

    Heh Toni…well, if you say it’s a super power…I’ll take it. Besides, you’ll get the chance to get me back in SF….hopefully we’ll be able to find a pool table. (or Darts…how are you at that?) 😉 (oh, and my daughter LOVED your Mother’s Day post!)

  29. Becky Hutchison

    My superpower is putting bills/mail in stacks on top of papers and other things…then starting another stack…then putting those stacks in a paper bag to contain them and starting another stack. I’m really good at it too.

    Another wonderful superpower I have is the ability to take quiet and turn it into lots and lots of noise. Yeah, I know, you wish you could have that one too. Only “special” people have the ability to talk that much.

    My dog’s superpower is the ability to sense a package of cheese being opened, no matter where he is in the house. Another superpower feat of his…not leaving any morsels of food uneaten if they have fallen on the floor. I know, I know…it’s truly amazing!

  30. Fran

    Oh Becky, I didn’t know you had my dog! He does that too!

    Superpowers, huh? I wanted telekensis, I wanted to change shapes — and from smaller to larger is NOT what I meant, although I got that one down! — I wanted to teleport.

    What I can do is explain Shakespeare to teenagers so they Get It.

    And I can call elephants and make them dance. I have NO idea why or how, but I can call elephants out of their houses at the zoo, and they’ll dance for me.

    It’s kinda embarrassing, actually. And I haven’t done it in years, but it certainly made my best friend laugh when I got circus elephants tethered outside the auditorium where they were performing to dance.

    I’m always afraid I’ve pissed them off and they’re about to attack. And it’s really not that marketable, far as I know.

    Now if I could get elephants to understand Shakespeare, that would be a totally cool, totally useless superpower, which would be right up my alley!

  31. Catherine

    My superpowers vary from the ridiculous to the ridiculous.

    9 times out of 10 I can get a fantastic carpark really close to the entrance of a shopping centre…just by expecting it to be there.

    I can also be totally oblivious to how messy(potentially lawsuit messy), my house is when concentrating on work.

    Oh and I can edit like a fiend for anyone else…I’m just not so insightful with my own work.

  32. Tom Barclay

    Fran, elephants *do* understand Shakespeare. Their lives are pretty medieval-to-Elizabethan, when you think of it.

  33. Allison Brennan

    When I was little, I wanted to be Samantha from BEWITCHED and wiggle my nose and have my room be instantly clean WITHOUT LIFTING A FINGER. And guess what? I have the superpower! I wiggle my pen across a check and voila! someone else cleans my house. Amazing.

  34. Erin

    If I had a super power, I’d want to be able to teleport. Then I’d never have to find a parking spot. I’d never be late to work or school or anything. I did have kind of Clark Kent/Superman moment a while back with my kids. They told me I wasn’t their mommy when my glasses were off. When I asked them who I was they told me I was the assistant director of their pre-school. Maybe next time I’ve heard “Mommmy” fifty million times in one day I’ll just take off my glasses and tell them “Mommy’s not here”!

  35. toni mcgee causey

    Fran, that whole elephant dancing thing is cool. I don’t know anyone else who can do that — and it’s something I’d love to see you do!

    Catherine, from now on, you’re driving. Everywhere we go. (whaddya mean, you’re on a different continent? details, schmetails, getcher butt over here)

    Allison, I never really thought of it that way, but damn, that’s magical–as are the hard-working people who do the cleaning. I have a lady who comes in once-in-while to help me dig out, and I’d be lost without her. One day she told me about going on vacation (for about a month) and I knew I was going to miss her waaaaaaaaaaay more than she missed me. I’m just relieved each time when she comes back.

    Erin, that’s funny. And I’m with you on the teleportation. I will wait ’til the last possible minute to go get something because I don’t want the hassle of having to drive and then park.


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