I blew another laptop motherboard, my third in four years. I brought this headache up at a neighborhood barbecue, where I learned something amazing.

“How big an outlier is three consecutive laptops with bad motherboards?” I asked. 

I am told to direct my question to a nearby computer engineer. So I repeat my question: “Is three dead laptops, deceased at fourteen-month intervals and all of bad motherboards, lottery-ticket unlikely, merely weird, or just me?”

She replies, “Actually, it probably is you. It’s electrostatic discharge. We have some people with that at work. They have to wear a groundwire while they work or they screw everything up.”

As one does in these cases, I say, “Seriously?”

And she says, “Oh, yeah. Some people carry a charge or something. Causes long-term damage to sensitive electronics. It can be a real problem.”

I am stunned to the core.

And here we come to the extraordinary news I promised you. Because as she is saying this, it dawns on everyone what we have just learned. If you get right down to what she is saying, there can be no debate as to the life-changing magnitude of her words. I can shoot small amounts of electricity from my fingertips. The electricity that shoots from my fingertips can, with regular use over a long period of time, render complicated consumer electronics frustratingly useless.

As Emily put it, “Hee hee hee! You have a power!”

I have a power.

I am a super person.

A person of super.

As a newly-empowered person of super, I have some decisions to make.

First and foremost, I need a name. The name must meet two criteria:

1) It must bear some connection, however faint, to my new power.

2) It must lend itself easily to a cool-looking costume.

3) It must conform to classical style.

I have not had my bat-crashing-through-the-window moment yet. My tried-and-rejected list:


“Mr. Milliwatt”

“Drunk with Power”

“The Annoyer”



To correctly honor the classical style, “Sparky” would require me to be a sidekick. Sadly, to my knowledge, I have no (brace yourselves) super friends.

Other naming ideas welcome.

As far as a costume goes, I probably have to wait until I have settled on a name to begin assembling my signature look. I am fairly confident it will include garishly colored gloves and a jaunty hat featuring lightning bolts.

The big question, obviously, is whether I will be a hero or a villain. Personally, I would prefer to be a tweener, like Catwoman, as I’m not much of a joiner. But I do feel like I should give the two sides fair hearing.

Villainy is more attractive, generally, plus I’m sure my Super Myers-Briggs personality profile would reflect greater suitability for membership in the Legion of Doom. My power seems like a more natural fit for a life of crime anyway. (“It seems, Commissioner, that someone must have walked by Tiffany’s and sent a tiny jolt of electricity through their primary burglar alarm every day for 12-14 months, and there’s only one man alive who could pull that off!”) So I’m basically set here. 

That said, I have, in the interest of fairness, given consideration to being a hero. As a general rule, I would prefer to avoid constant capture and general thwarting. Plus there would be groupies. 

But assuming I don’t wind up being called Sparky and spending my time getting the Green Lantern’s dry cleaning, I think team-based planet-saving just isn’t for me. Malfeasant personal enrichment and occasional super-groupie affection is a much more motivating set of goals than constantly bailing Superman out of trouble.

It has been said that with great power comes great responsibility. This made me nervous for a while. Research was done. Loopholes were found. And fortunately for me, my power, while legally super, is technically not “great.” Really, I think my only obligation is to maintain a secret identity — so shush, you people — and occasionally thwart or be thwarted.

So I even have a super-catchphrase now: “With vanishingly modest power comes virtually no responsibility.”

Summon me if you need anything diabolical or heroic seen to. Use my cellphone for now. 

That still works.