The Anti-Cupid

By Grant Stoddard

Every superhero has a tragic creation myth. Bruce Wayne witnessed the killing of his parents and became the crime-fighter Batman. A young Brooklynite named Sarah got mercilessly dumped by her boyfriend and became Terrifica, a heroine whose mission is to prevent men from taking advantage of women. Men, she says, will use a deadly cocktail of “lies and drinks” to get a woman into bed. So she patrols the city’s parties, bars, and clubs, intervening when she spots a sketchy seduction in progress.

On a recent Saturday night in Park Slope, Terrifica bursts through the door of a bar called Commonwealth. She is resplendent in red spandex, scarlet boots, and red plastic overcoat. She wears no cape or mask—tonight is an “undercover” operation. She makes a beeline to a dark corner where a couple looks poised to canoodle. After speaking to them quietly, she opens her utility belt—referring to it as a fanny pack will not endear you to Terrifica—and gives them a pair of gold lamé fortune cards. When Terrifica moves on to another couple, I ask what happened. “She asked if we were going to hook up tonight,” says Lauren, a 24-year-old painter. (“We’re just good friends,” interjects her buddy Justin.) “She offered us a condom and said that if I was going to be tricked into having sex, at least it should be safe.”

Terrifica is already running off to her next location. “How do you know where to go?” I pant, two strides behind her. “Do you sense impending danger, like Spiderman?”

Terrifica spins around: “Um, I don’t have any superpowers. I’m not crazy, you know.”

“Well, you claim to be a superhuman.”

“I am a human, who just happens to be super.” She looks me up and down. “You are a human who is un-super.” She shrugs. “I assume the addresses come to me because Sarah knows about parties and bars.”

Terrifica doesn’t think much of her alter ego. “Sarah is a very weak woman,” she sneers. “Very needy, very insecure.”

Later, Sarah explains Terrifica’s vitriol. “I have loved two men in my life,” she says. “The first man dumped me when I moved to NYC. That was Terrifica’s birth. The second just dumped me. I thought that turning 30 and falling in love were signals for the retirement of Terrifica. But ever since I was dumped—in the most brutally humiliating of ways—I have felt compelled to put the stupid tights and wig back on. As soon as I pull on that mask, I feel really strong.”

Back on patrol, Terrifica surveys a party in Park Slope. Acting as Robin to her Batman, I wander the floor trying to bring flirtatious couples to her attention. Finally, she swoops in to break up a passionate clinch. “Unsurprisingly, she is much more invested in the relationship than he is,” she scoffs. “She’ll learn the hard way.”

As we walk toward her “Carrific,” Terrifica announces that she’s ditching me. “I must go to a party on the Upper East Side,” she says. “Frat boys, Wall Street guys. It’s dangerous work that I must do alone.”