Article: 178421 of talk.bizarre
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
From: (dhalgren)
Subject: mischief
Message-ID: <>
Summary: If I were a superhero, I'd be able to...
Organization: harsh mistress newsfroups, ltd.
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 1994 08:15:36 GMT
Lines: 109
Status: RO

      Look.  I'm pretty sure what I do isn't ever going to qualify me as
a superhero.  I mean, saving drowning Lois Lanes, catching Jimmy Olsons
as they fall from the Daily Planet building, even purveying only the
highest quality information the way Clark Kent used to -- all those are
way out of my league.
      See, I'm a super*market* hero.  I can do damn near anything I want,
as long as I'm in a supermarket.  I didn't pick this.  And I don't know why.
But let me tell you, if the U.N. ever holds a special session in your
friendly neighborhood K-mart, the fate of the world will be resting in my
hands.  Hollow laugh.
      It sort of sucks, having all this power with just this one stupid
limitation on it.  It doesn't work, either, if I'm working at the supermarket.
As soon as the manager says "You're hired," it's like a chunk of kryptonite
on Aisle 12, between the Karo corn syrup and the Land 'o' Lakes imitation
      Yeah, there is such a thing.  Trust me.  I'm a supermarket guru.
      So I hang around supermarkets a lot, ever since I was four and sitting
in a shopping cart while Mommy was shopping at Food Barn.  She walked off,
leaving me sitting right next to a whole shelf full of Pepperidge Farm
cookies.  I wanted some real bad, and all of a sudden bags were dropping
off the shelf and one floated right into my hands and opened itself up for
      Wow, was Mom pissed.  So I wished real hard for the mess to be cleaned
and all of a sudden things were back the way they had been, except there was
a sign, "30% off on Pepperidge Farm cookies!  Today Only!"  And that's how
it went, mostly.
      As I got older I started exploring the depths of my powers.  I found
out very quickly that I had X-ray vision in the markets whenever I wanted it.
And let me tell you, even beautiful women have to eat.  I didn't do that
very much -- I always felt a little guilty about it.  When I confessed it,
I changed it around a little: I said I'd imagined that everybody in the
supermarket was nude.  Father O'Rourke was very stern about my impure thoughts
but I could hear the suppressed laughter in his voice.  Anyway, when
I learned that I could stop time, I quit looking under girls' clothes -- 
it was too much of a temptation.  I'm basically a pretty God-fearing guy
and I don't suppose He'd give me a talent like this so I could dirty myself
with it.
      That Food Barn by my house closed before I was old enough to vote.
My fault, I guess - I changed every price in the place to two-fifty.  It
was good for a laugh.  All the Weber barbeque pits and seasonal items
disappeared and the place was left with nothing but beans and such on the
shelves.  The manager went broke but I didn't care too much about that.
I swear you'd never believe the kind of graft and corruption that goes on
in the supermarket business -- or maybe it's every business, and this is just
the one I know about.  I wouldn't know.  But I was happy to see him go to
jail, ever since I found out his loading-dock workers were illegal aliens
getting paid ninety cents an hour.  He wouldn't even let them take away
overripe fruits and vegetables, though their children were starving.
      It occurred to me, though, that I couldn't monkey around too hard.
The supermarket is my world and I have a responsibility not to destroy it. 
So my hands are pretty much tied.  I lurk among the lettuce, fiddle around the
fish counter, lollygag in the leeks -- OK, you get the point.  If there's
someone who's obviously starving and out of food stamps I cut them a little
break.  And that's about the noblest thing I can do -- around Christmas I'll
trudge the aisles looking for fractious brats to calm down, but that's 
common kindness and you'd be surprised how many divorcees you can pick up
that way.  Anyway, it rarely requires my super powers.
      Most of what I use them for, in fact, is just goofing around.
The other day I changed the contents of every Prego bottle into pickled
mushrooms.  Most folks just look at them nervously and pass them by, maybe
with a little titter.  A couple, realizing that pickled mushrooms are more
expensive than Prego by weight, would stock up.  And a few terribly bored
housewives would throw a couple into their carts without even looking.
Eventually some worker packages them all up and sends them back to
      It's the bored housewives I feel sorry for.  And there's barely
anything I can do for them.  Sure, they're trapped in a monotonous,
hardly-alive existence, but they love their kids and husbands too much to
change it.  I'll materialize a couple extra double coupons in their
pockets.  Best I can do.  Occasionally I'll think about them pouring out
pickled mushrooms over a plate of Ronzoni or Creamettes.  A vinaigrette,
sort of.  That'd be something new, something different at least for them.
But I know it never gets that far; or if it does, it probably ends up in
a yelling match.  You can't tickle suburbia that way.  I know that.  Oh,
do I know it.
      A year or two ago, I was invisible in the meat department.  This
guy walks up -- good looking, young, well-dressed, laughing eyes.  I figure
he'll play with me.  So I take the turkey he's looking at and animate it.
Same time, I switch the MUZAK to Madonna and start it swelling, for his
ears only.  The turkey gets up and starts doing a dance, all right?
You know, high kicks with the drumsticks, showing a wing here, a gam
there.  Nothing too risque - I don't break the package and stick the
neck out or anything like that.  Just a little good clean fun.
      Well this guy, he reaches into his jacket and pulls a gun.  His hands
are shaking all over and he's trying to hold on this turkey.  I drop it
with the MUZAK, let the turkey roll over onto some substandard cuts of
pork.  I'm hoping he'll cool it but he's looking around like he's scared
out of his wits and his eyes aren't laughing any more.  Finally he puts
one into the turkey BLAM and races out of the store.  Just his luck,
he about knocks over a cop on the sidewalk and he gets taken in.  They
never brought him back into the store -- if they had, I could have 
done something about it -- but they took him down to the station house
right away.  If they let him go, he probably never walked into a
supermarket again, I'll bet.
      I feel bad about that.  Laughing eyes, you know -- who would have
thought it?  Christ, I know there's something wrong with modern life and
I haven't got a prayer of making a difference as long as I'm in here.
But, frankly, I'm not too sure where else to go.  Here, I'm a hero.  And,
more and more, when I botch something up, or a girlfriend dumps me,
or life just looks like a seething pit, I'll go into the produce department
and check out the clean living fruit assembled here for my perusal.  It's
almost like I can steal some of its energy; happy tomatoes and bon-vivant
bok choi pat me on the back whispering "Keep trying."
      I love fresh produce.  And hell, it's not like it grows on trees, is it?