Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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With Great Boyfriends Come Great Responsibilities

By Becky Kletnieks

I have been a comic-book fan for decades, and still self-identify as such even though I actually stopped buying comics more years ago than I'd care to admit. I have a serious love for the superhero genre, and the recent (read: past several years) trend towards superhero movies has made me a very happy girl in many ways. However, after watching half a dozen seasons of Smallville and more movie adaptations of varios titles than I can count, and reading my way through most of the X-universe, I have come to realize that there are some aspects of the superhero lifestyle that people just don't understand.

So, I have taken on the duty of explaining these vital details to the universe, in the interest of making the world a better place.

How To Be A Superhero's Girlfriend

  1. Accept that he may mutate.
    He didn't start out the way he is today, and he probably won't end up that way. Will you still love him when he's green and lumpy and his skin is replaced by linoleum? If not, just walk away now.

  2. Avoid toxic waste, research facilities of any kind, genetically engineered material, and anything that falls to earth from outer space.
    See above statement about becoming green, lumpy, and linoleum-clad. If it can happen to him, it can happen to you - and since you're in his story, you're *going* to end up as the villain or the sidekick, neither of which is nearly as cool as it sounds.

    2b. Don't become a villain.
    Just don't. Or if you absolutely must, at least embrace the concept of questionably-evil, gray-shaded villainess activity. While the concept of seeing your boyfriend while he's busy at work saving the city may be appealing, it's hard to go on dates once he's put you in jail. Which he will. Unless he kills you as part of an angst-ridden personal development plot, which is no fun for anyone. Except me, the reader.

  3. Take a self-defense class, for heaven's sake!
    Yes, he's super. Yes, he can rescue you. But when he's got to choose between you and a bus full of big-eyed homeless Malaysian orphans with severe Projectile Pity Disorder because you couldn't fend off Ulterior Motive Man's latest lame-brained kidnapping scheme, boy are you going to feel like a heel.

  4. Wear underpants at all times.
    Even if you do take the recommended martial arts classes, eventually you will find yourself dangling over the heart of Megalopolis City in a miniskirt at rush hour. It's in the contract. And whether you'll enjoy it or not, it's generally poor form to impose that kind of familiarity on a crowd without their prior consent.

  5. High-profile jobs are generally a bad idea. Especially when they lead to late-night meetings with shady strangers.
    Just say no to any career like this. Consider taking up library sciences or tech support. In a first-floor office that is well-lit and has several coworkers to witness any shady strangers attempting to meet with you. But not too many. About as many as you'd feel comfortable accepting as casualties in a battle, I'd suggest.

  6. Don't be jealous.
    Not of his hobby, not of his love affair with the city itself, not of the hot chick he rescued from the office five floors above you last week, not of the evil villainess that looks better in black vinyl than you ever will, not of the fact that your best friend's hubby is actually available for late-night dinner parties. He's a hero, for God's sake. He's as squeaky-clean and trustworthy as they come, and he's not going to leave you. Unless you become a mad, freaky, jealous nutbar. In which case, he will promptly take up with the next female to wander into his sphere of influence.

  7. If your boyfriend isn't acting like himself, odds are he isn't himself.
    See my above statement about him being trustworthy and squeaky-clean. If your good guy suddenly becomes violent, obsessive, insane, moody, or undergoes any significant personality change, don't assume he's being a dick. Assume he's being mind controlled, or has been replaced by an alien/clone/robot/alien-robot-clone. Proceed accordingly.

  8. Hang onto your DNA.
    Your fingernail clippings, dental floss, and random shed hairs are no longer trash. They are now clone fodder for every villain, alien, mad scientist, and future version of your boyfriend. Unless you want to end up replaced by an alternate version of yourself with amnesia and replicative fading problems, invest in an incinerator.

  9. Learn good relationship communication skills.
    This is important for everyone, yes, but even more so for you. If you have a problem in a normal relationship and tell your best friend all of your secrets instead of talking it out with your boyfriend, one or both of you might wind up frustrated and hurt. If you do that with a superhero boyfriend, the best friend will turn out to be an Arch Nemesis, and you will wind up hanging over Megalopolis with a bus full of orphans while your boyfriend is out snogging his secretary and Mr. Nemesis is out shopping for yellow adamantium-lined kryptonite bullets, or whatever other super-weakness you spilled to him in your moment of self-pity.

  10. Use protection.
    Barrier method, if at all possible. I really shouldn't need to spell this out any further.

That's all I can think of at the moment, though I'm open to suggestions of things to add. Either way, maybe now also-starring girls around the country can wise up, and plots can move on.....

© 2007 Rebecca Kletnieks

Becky Keltnieks is a veterenary doctor living in Massachussets.

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