Sorry for the long delay since part one of this post, given my skipped installment a couple of weeks ago. If you need a quick refresher, I described the nuclear explosion inside my head that led to this massive, unwieldy serial I’m preparing to web-publish.
This week, I will tell a tale of a nostalgic Easter, some great friends, and how the conversation of what superpowers we’d all have set off a relentless train of thought that catalyzed the aforementioned nuclear explosion.
You may have heard of Friendsgiving, the growing tradition among millennials without families of their own yet, who also can’t afford to travel home for Thanksgiving. At my college alma mater, we also got an “Easter break”, for which I never once made the six-hour drive home for a brief four-day weekend. The result? A growing tradition my friends and I called “Friendster.”
A surprising number of us stayed for Easter break my senior year. Four of us congregated in my apartment, where we potlucked together a meal (quiche featured above) and spent the intermittent time plunging into the entire series of Teen Titans, recently purchased for the birthday of one of the friends present at the event.
I have a real problem with absorbing themes from media and trying to re-create them. Once upon a time, I watched a single episode of the X-Men animated series, and my 8 or 9-year-old self immediately (literally immediately– within the hour) devised my own intricate world to mimic it (and yes, small pieces of that saga made it into Casters’ Court).
I digress. The point is that, if you sit me down and put me in a world for several hours on end, I start trying to make my own version. The “what-ifs” explode. The “I’d-have-done-it-this-ways” crackle around the edges. Teen Titans was no exception.
Especially when the group began discussing what our superpowers and respective relationships would be if we were the Teen Titans.
Probably literally everyone . . . EVERYONE . . . has formed an imaginary superhero team with their friends before, but something about this was different. Maybe it was the fact that my friends had really solid ideas, or maybe it was the fact that I was really entrenched in the Teen Titans mythos at the time, or maybe a combination. Either way, we decided three things that stuck with me.
- The friend cooking the delicious quiche (who the Teen Titans DVDs belonged to) would secretly be a former villain who changed his identity and turned hero. Occasionally, he’d still take a joyride back through his former villainous enterprise. Sometimes, these joyrides would include . . .
- His best friend. In our friend group, he was one of a pair of sassy Slytherins (self-defined) who went to each other for all their Slytherin-y mischief. (I’m a Hufflepuff, in case you were wondering.) As both Slytherins were present at Friendster, they both received a role in our new regime. The powers of Slytherin #2 were hotly contested, but it was agreed upon that she and our sometimes-villainous quiche master would be total bros, supporting each other’s crazy antics and, in general, looking down on everyone else for fun.
- Then, there’s me. I had absolutely no say in what my powers or backstory were, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t, because the Slytherins jumped all over that, and what they decided made so much sense. The consensus was almost immediate. I would have cool shield powers that could be used to, well, shield, duh, but could also be used as a weapon. I furrowed my brow and fought to come up with something more interesting while they informed me that I had once gotten romantically entangled with some mind-warping supervillain who made me his stooge and screwed with my head in a lot of ways. The backstory, I conceded, was super interesting, and it really did explain the whole shield thing.
It didn’t take me long to find and plug in powers for quiche-master, who would absolutely be a mischievous Jack-of-all-trades type. I had a very loosely-defined concept tucked away about an anthropomorphic immortal bird guardian. Slytherin #2’s personality snapped into that character like a puzzle piece, and she and the former-villain character had INSTANT, tangible best friend chemistry in my head. And the shield girl? No effort required. She bubbled up from some deep recesses of my soul without me having to even try– impressive superhero name included.
I didn’t tell my friend about most of these plots until much later, considering they weren’t canon to what we’d discussed that fateful Friendster. The concepts kept circling, though. The characters kept cropping up, but I had no plot to put them on. Superheroes, I scoffed. Why would I write a story about superheroes?
Occasionally, after all of this, I still ask myself that question.