Saturday, January 14, 2006

Flight or Invisibility?

We were listening to old “This American Life” stories over Christmas, and were most intrigued by a parlor game that one author (I cannot remember who at the moment) has been playing.

The rules are these:
1) You can have one superpower, either the ability to fly or to be invisible.
2) No one else has superpowers.
3) You can fly 1000 miles per hour.
4) Your clothes become invisible, too.
5) You have all your normal physical properties besides the one superpower.

Which would you choose?

(The originator has found a gender skew to the answers, though the Gruntled family did not quite follow the norm. I will tell you what I would choose, and why, when a few of you have had a chance to respond. Enjoy.)


SPorcupine said...

Flight, without a doubt. I could stop by when my mother is ill (300 miles), or take my dad to lunch 400+miles). I could be in the state capitol (40 miles) for meetings in less than a minute, and back at my desk right after.

I figure I might need to suit up like Amelia Earhart to be warm and comfortable in flight.

Anonymous said...

"Fly 1000 miles per hour"... hmmm, is that inside an aircraft? If not, what happens to my clothes? Will you guarantee that I'll arrive looking kempt?

I'm still wary of the whole border-crossing issue... visas and that stuff... Patriot Act, 'n all.

Anyway, I'm of the feeling that being invisible isn't all it's cracked up to be. For one thing, people would sit on me when I'm using public transportation; and there's no way Mary-Kate Olsen wouldn't bump-up against me in the Victoria's Secret dressing room, no matter how anorexic she is.

Nope, I'll take "the fast lane".

Oh, one more question: does it include airfare?

ancho and lefty said...

Ancho and I both choose invisibility. In the words of Ancho, flight would be really great until you run into a bird and break your collar bone. In my opinion, if I were a superhero and engaging in world-saving activities I believe invisibility would be more useful in the fight against evil (broadly construed). Plus, I could sneak onto flights to other parts of the world if my super hero services were required elsewhere, although there's a great deal of evil to fight right here in Kentucky- meth production, political corruption, drunk drivers, white supremacists, Kentucky American Water Complany, junk food in public schools, people smoking cigarettes in public places, etc.

Michael Kruse said...

I think fly. I like to travel.

Gruntled said...

What the original author found was that men generally choose flight; women, invisibility. Our house was role-reversed, though. I would choose invisibility. My first thought was to infiltrate the mob and uncover their evil plans. Also, I am a sociologist, and I like to watch people. I believe Lefty is, too.

The original author was also impressed that people tend to know right away which one they would choose. I did.

Anonymous said...

Fly! And I'm assuming that all the complications would be worked out in this magical offer. I want to see the Great Wall of China and I want to go to Venice. Free travel would be wonderful. Being invisible would be sort of creepy for other people -- like eavesdropping or wiretapping. How would you like to have an invisible mother-in-law in your house? Also if you did find out something about the mob, would your testimony be admissible in court?

Gruntled said...

If I had an invisible mother-in-law in my house, I would be able to find her by the sound of her typing.

amba said...

I just knew it was going to be men=flight, women=invisibility. (Hey fellow women -- if that's not an oxymoron -- just wait till menopause and it's all yours!)

I'm a woman and I want flight -- for the sheer kinesthetic rush of it. My flying dreams are my favorites. I'm not very curious about sneaking into other people's private spaces (what's going on there is, after all, pretty predictable), and not very shy about going where I want to go visibly.

Has anyone read John D. MacDonald's "The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything," though?? "Red time" -- now that's a superpower worth having. Really delightful book, available for a few bucks on Amazon.

Michael Kruse said...

Did the authors speculate as to what the connection was between gender and choice between these gifts? (This what I expected but not sure why.)

I have to admit that I was torn between to the two and precisely for the reason you mentioned; a sociological study motivation.

Gruntled said...

He speculated that men saw themselves doing something heroic, whereas women didn't want to be so conspicuous, but did want to know how they were viewed by others.

Unknown said...

FYI, I have an entire site dedicated to this very simple yet revealing question.