Power is intoxicating. Everyone loves having the ability to make their decisions into reality — to think “this should be something that happens,” and then actually be able to make that thing happen.
It is also dangerous.
And it is especially dangerous when applied to my friend, Buttercup Matsubara.
Tomboys like Buttercup lack the experience to wield power responsibly. They have no idea what to do with it or how to control it.
But they like it.
And this story that I just wrote is about Buttercup and her experience with a dinosaur costume before she gained her Powered Buttercup form.
The dinosaur costume was the greatest thing that had ever happened to Buttercup. The previous Halloween, which was the first Halloween she could actually remember, her parents had dressed her as a dolphin, and the whole experience had been really uncomfortable for her.
Buttercup got her dinosaur costume when she needed to get a costume for her kindergarten class’s Halloween party.
But to Buttercup, being a dinosaur felt natural.
The feeling had been slowly intensifying ever since she put the costume on that morning, and, as she stood there in the middle of the classroom, staring off into the distance in an unresponsive power trance, it finally hit critical mass.
Buttercup began to roar and flail around, looking like she was about to attack her classmates and eat them alive.
The other children screamed and fled. The teacher chased Buttercup, yelling at her to stop. But she couldn’t stop. She was a mindless juggernaut, a puppet for forces far greater than herself. She had completely lost control of her body.
Buttercup just went berserk, running around the classroom, roaring endlessly and flailing her arms, grabbing the markers and scribbling on the walls and the ceiling.
All she knew was that being a dinosaur felt very different from being a person, and she was doing things that she had never even dreamed of doing before.
Of course, Buttercup had always had the ability to do these things — even as a person — but she didn’t know that. She’d just assumed that she was unable. As a dinosaur, she didn’t have any of those assumptions. It felt like she could do whatever she wanted without fear of repercussions.
The repercussions were also exactly the same as they were before Buttercup became a dinosaur.
She just experienced them differently.
Buttercup’s parents had to come pick her up at noon that day. The teacher explained that it must have been all the Halloween candy. “Some kids really can’t handle sugar,” she said. “It turns them into little monsters.”
She supposed it was a reasonable enough conclusion, but it only served as a distraction from the real problem.
The thing about being an unstoppable force is that you can really only enjoy the experience of being one when you have something to bash yourself against. You need to have things trying to stop you so that you can get a better sense of how fast you are going as you smash through them. And whenever Buttercup was inside the dinosaur costume, that is the only thing she wanted to do.
The ban on sugar provided a convenient source of resistance. As long as Buttercup was not supposed to eat sugar, she could feel powerful by eating it anyway.
She’s sure the correlation started to seem rather strong after a while. She’d find some way to get sugar into herself, and then — drunk on the power of doing something she
wasn’t supposed to —she would lapse into psychotic monster mode. To any reasonable observer, it would appear as though she was indeed having a reaction to the sugar.
Buttercup’s parents were so confused when the terror sprees continued even after the house had been stripped of sugar. They were sure they had gotten rid of all of it. . . did Buttercup have a stash somewhere? Was she eating bugs or something?
They still weren’t suspicious of the costume.
She lost weeks in a power-fueled haze. She often found herself inside the costume without even realizing she had put it on. One moment, she would be calmly drawing a picture, and the next she’d be robotically stumbling toward her closet where the dinosaur costume was and putting herself inside it.
It started to happen almost against Buttercup’s will.
Surely her parents made the connection subconsciously long before they became aware of what was really going on. After weeks of chaos, each instance punctuated by the presence of the costume, she has to imagine that the very sight of the thing would have triggered some sort of fear response.
They did figure it out eventually, though.
And the costume was finally taken away from poor Buttercup.
She was infuriated at the injustice of it all. She had become quite dependent on the costume, and it felt like part of her humanity was being forcibly and maliciously stripped away. She cursed her piddling human powers and their uselessness in the situation. If only she could put on the costume . . . just one more time.
But that was the costume’s only weakness — it couldn’t save itself. She had to watch helplessly as it disappeared inside a trash bag.
There was nothing Buttercup could do.
And so her reign of power came to an end, and Buttercup slowly learned to live as a person again.
But I’m glad I’ve never learned to live as a dinosaur.