I’m not kidding: I have a super-human power that most people can only read comic books about. I wasn’t bitten by an enhanced arachnid, doused in radioactive goo, or hurled to Earth from an alien planet (or supernatural Nordic palace of the gods). I’m not on the frontier of human genetic mutation, and nor do I have enough money to turn myself into an invincible high-tech inner-city vigilante. Zeus didn’t seduce my mother and I’m not a goddess by the measure of any modern faith (I knew you were wondering).
But I do owe my power to my parents.
Are you ready? Here it is.
I can make myself invisible.
How long have human beings fantasized about the unlimited espionage potential of being invisible? Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak is arguably his coolest accessory, allowing for all sorts of outlandish schemes even most wizards wouldn’t attempt.
But as any reputable psychic might also tell you, my gift is fickle. It comes and goes without warning, and I can never predict when it’s going to happen. I can’t time my invisibility to learn the things that would be of most interest to everyone.
How did I come by my gift? It’s as simple as my name, and that’s why I owe it all to my parents – and the advent of cell phones.
For a long time, I just thought all the pocket-dials were irritating. Sometimes, it’s up to two or three in one day – my husband, my parents, friends and colleagues regularly dial my number at all hours without realizing it. That’s because the spelling of my name puts it at the top of the contact list of most of my acquaintances’ cell phones. When they slip it into their pocket or purse without properly locking the screen or buttons, it dials the first person on the list. Me.
Don’t you see what this means? At any given moment of the day, I can be given complete, real-time, blameless auditory access to whatever you’re doing or saying for as long as I let the call continue, no expensive hidden microphones or sneaking around required. Is there anything closer to being invisible?
But while Harry Potter used his Invisibility Cloak for shocking revelations about the goings-on at Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, I have found that real-life invisibility is far less interesting.
I just get random snippets of coffee-shop conversation or boring work chit-chat. There was one notable exception where a friend pocket-dialed me on their own raucous Saturday night after I had gone to bed. The call went to my voice-mail, where a ten-minute transcript was recorded of them hitting on someone at the bar. But other than that, the most interesting thing I’ve been privy to is learning that my husband’s workplace is nothing like the one on Mad Men. He has unwittingly proven on endless occasions that his interactions with coworkers point to nothing that would upset a wife.
I’m making it sound as if I spend all my time eavesdropping on everyone unlucky enough to have me in his or her cell-phone. I don’t, partly because, contrary to the implications of your Facebook statuses, you guys never seem to be doing anything interesting anyway, but mostly because I wouldn’t like others to listen in on me just because my phone dialed them by mistake.
Sometimes, for fun, I shout something into the phone to see if the unwitting callers will be frightened by the disembodied voice emanating from their back pocket. It never works, so I just hang up – until my superpower visits again.