My Superpower: New Pot, Oak Park

Posted: March 19, 2003

Message: For a few days now, I’ve been wandering around in a dream, hallucinating actually, small flashes simmering on the edges of my peripheral vision, rambling incoherently, imagining goddesses in the hedgerow, sensing spiders in my bed.

Up until last week, I had gone all the winter long without catching the flu. I was actually at the point where I pretty much assumed I was invulnerable (I had even taken to answering the phone, “Kal-El here.”). Then I got sick with some kind of upper respiratory illness (yes, I have considered that I might be one out of billions to contract SARS, but I don’t think it’s quite that bad).

When you’re sick, of course, there’s soup, often hateful, but when you’re ill, just right. My Italian grandmother used to make pastina for me when I was a kid, and I remember once, while slurping it, my fever actually broke, I was cured, Hollywood-style, on the spot, and I got up from the table, emerging from the garlic mist, healed and whole.

Nowhere are the curative powers of food made more manifest than in the salubrious effects of soup on a sore throat, head, and body. In search of such, I wandered out my front door, dazed, and found myself at New Pot on Lake Street. I ordered a bowl of Tom Kar Kai, a Thai classic with coconut and chicken. Hoovered it away in seconds flat. Then I called the waitron over and ordered another bowl. She looked at me kind of like a bartender who cautiously fills up my third glass of Jack Daniels. It’s a look that says, “You sure you know what you’re doing, Bub?” I sure did, and I sucked down a bowl of Tom Yum, no sweat…actually, there was some sweat, and it felt real good, but what there wasn’t was… TASTE.

I realized that I couldn’t really taste what I was eating. My nose was so clogged that I had completely lost my sense of smell and taste.

Back home: I tried a little experiment: I ate a spoon of horseradish. Just a tingle. So I swept up and chewed a few sport peppers, and got just a general glow. I dipped the pepper in the horseradish, and ate that. Nothing. Spoonful of mustard? Could hardly tell it was in my mouth. What this reveals to me is that I can now eat things that would sicken a normal man – which is the closest I’ve ever come to having a super power. So, I am now making myself available to fight crime. Granted, I’m not exactly sure how this particular superpower might be used in the service of truth, justice and the American way, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

I’ve always been afraid that I would get too old before my superpower revealed itself (a fear that came close to confirmation last night as I watched Helen Mirren on Conan and thought to myself, “she’s HOT!!”), but now, and for the duration of my head cold, I am willing to commit my superpower of Tastelessness to the cause of good.

Like all superpowers, there are limits. Superman can’t see through lead, Green Lantern’s ring doesn’t work on wood, and I cannot eat unlimited quantities of anything (though I’m working on that). Suffice it to say, if I can save you or your loved ones through the power of Tastelessness, then by all means, ring me.

Tastelessness, which in the past may have gotten me thrown off this board, will now be used to serve man (who, I’ve heard, is delicious).

New Pot
727 Lake Street
Oak Park, IL 60301