Awaiting the call

I have previously speculated, perhaps even within these pages, that we will all eventually receive our call up to serve as a member of the Sugababes. It is a process more inevitable than jury duty and taxes (if we exclude the exceeding wealthy) and only just behind the promise of the sweet embrace of death. Given the regenerative power exhibited by some bands of the past, where even a single member is able to produce a whole new incarnation of the original whole, the Sugababes may be entering Malthusian territory. I’m not sure whether the pluripotency of band members is inherited by later members but, for the sake of us all, let’s hope it isn’t!

More recently, it has struck me that with the ever expanding scope of Stan Lee’s creations, we will all at some point be required to appear within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Already, the creators of the MCU seem to be struggling to find sufficient suitable heroes on earth and have been forced to trawl outer space and the mythical home of the Æsir to populate their creation. So serious have matters become that, in a shocking development, they have been forced to include woman and people of colour (and not just green grease paint) in speaking roles with actual agency within their corner of the multiverse. This move generated howls of protest from the more reactionary portion of their fan base.

As a white cis-man from the most boring and colourless portion of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum – the A just doesn’t seem to attract the same attention (for good or ill) as its siblings – I feel I may be at particularly high risk of being press-ganged into the MCU in the near-term. In consequence, I have been trying to think about what sort of superpower(s) I could bring to the MCU. I felt it was important to sort this detail before I consider my superhero name and the tailoring options, which I believe are required to major on neoprene and lycra, that would be compatible with my power(s), body shape, age (substantial) and dignity (largely surrendered).

While I am slowly mastering some physical skills which are not entirely common in a man of my age (though often trivial for a girl of 8), the day when I can run away to join the circus still lies some distance into the future. Even once mastery is mine, I don’t think these skills would ever be sufficient to be considered a superpower: so, I fear I must look beyond mere physical prowess. I feel that I have an entirely healthy fear of exposure to excessive quantities of materials radioactive and significant skepticism about the ability of such exposure to transform me in any way which I would label ‘super’: and so another route to the MCU is closed off.

However, just as despair might have threatened to take up residence, I woke this morning to discover myself having made decent progress along the road to death by a thousand cuts. This is neither because I fell asleep in the cutlery drawer nor due to the fact that I have started to sleep with my épée, for fear of being assailed by a footpad during the night given the parlous manning of the constabulary. No, it was because I had permitted my fingernails to grow slightly longer than is usual: though to a length that would not be considered even slightly excessive by a neutral (or even mildly alkaline) third party. For some reason, as I have aged, my fingernails have grown back ever sharper after each pollarding and can (and do) now slice through my flesh with the greatest of ease if ever they are permitted to emerge beyond the fleshy tips of my digits. Rather than trimming them back, as I did this morning, it is perhaps time to grow them out and start cutting them to a point: that they make act as a stabbing, as well as a slashing, weapon. I should perhaps also investigate whether my toenails have the potential to be weaponised: the holes in my socks are certainly a promising sign. The only downside of adding them to my armoury would be the requirement to wear open-toed sandals: which I don’t really feel is in keeping with the costume-design ethos of the MCU.

I’ll admit that (beyond the sandals issue) my costume thinking has yet to proceed very far: though, I would prefer to avoid a hood given its unhelpful impact on both vision and hearing and would also, reluctantly, reject the cape (cool as it would be) as I would just get it caught in doors (and worse). I quite like the idea of having some signature nail polish to accessorise my ‘claws’: I have a friend who has nail polish that changes colour with temperature and I feel something similar could provide the necessary separation between my ‘super’ and ‘mundane’ identities. Finally, it seems clear that my outfit should be easy to launder, as blood stains could be an issue given my superpower: I wonder if Scotchguard would help? This issue has never been very obviously tackled in the MCU (so far as I know) and I’m not at all sure whether neoprene could go in a mixed wash? Or would it have to be dry-cleaned? The latter would certainly help to explain why so many superheroes are (or started out) extremely wealthy… Well, that and the fact that it seems rather difficult to hold down a 9-5 job (or any sort of regular employment) as a superhero: constantly having to dash off at the drop of a hat to perform some act of derring-do. In some ways, the growth of zero-hour contracts must have been a boon to the community.

I assume that there is some form of bureaucracy within the MCU, part of Shield perhaps, that issues names to superheroes: I guess, like Equity, you cannot have two active superheroes using the same name without creating confusion. So, I shall hold off on my official naming for the time being.

I’m assuming the same (or a similar) organisation would also handle the very significant insurance needs of your typical superhero: they do seem to cause a lot of third party and fire damage, at least some of which looks likely to fall the wrong side of standard force majeure clauses in commercial contracts. To be honest, I can’t help feeling that dear old Stan did rather gloss over the whole admin side of his creations which does act as a barrier to entry for fresh blood. I just hope there is a suitable briefing and training period after I’m drafted: a chap doesn’t want to be worrying about his cover or whether he has the relevant Stain Devil while trying to save the earth from imminent destruction at alien tentacles.

Despite my practical worries, I stand ready to take my place in the MCU when the call comes: I’ll just need a little notice for my nails to grow to combat length…

Feel free to continue the lunacy...

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