a short story by Bill Adler
Kathy poked at her meat loaf with her fork, as if she were testing the temperature of a swimming pool with her toes. She looked both anxious and apprehensive as she let her fork hover over the plate, before it dropped like a divining rod into the mashed potatoes.
“Good choice,” Abe said.
“Sometimes I want to save the potatoes for last. It’s a toss up, you know what I mean? Eat the food you’re not favoring first, then the good stuff becomes dessert. But the danger is you’ll fill up and won’t have room for dessert.” Kathy consumed two forkfuls of potatoes, letting a few peas along for the ride. “Mmm. Diners are god.” She sliced into her meatloaf with the edge of the fork, took a bite and said, “Speaking of which, “I can drive a thirty-foot truck in reverse. I register voters. I ask random strangers if they’re registered to vote, and if they say ‘no’ I sign them up real quick. And, most powerful of all, I can drink flat tonic water.”
Abe smiled at Kathy while he swirled his spaghetti around his fork. “I have hindsight. I’m a foster cat dad. I grow tomatoes on my balcony.”
“You going to share some tomatoes with me?”
“When we get back, you can have as many as you desire.”
Christopher, who was sitting next to Kathy opposite me in the booth, rang his water glass with the side of his spoon. “Ah hem.” He cleared his throat. “I can function on little or no sleep. I get ready for work in twenty minutes flat, and that includes brushing my teeth. And I’m able to insert a USB stick into a USB drive the correct way every time.”
“Ooo,” Abe said, “That USB thing is a superpower I wished I had.”
It was my turn. “I’m a redhead. I can walk down the aisle of a moving train without holding onto other people’s seats and not fall into anyone’s lap. I can rid my brain of earworms with a single thought.”
Abe, Kathy, Christopher, and I played What’s Your Superpower? whenever we stopped for a meal during our cross country road trip. What’s Your Superpower? isn’t the most inspired group game, but it’s more fun than Twenty Questions, Memory, or Would you Rather? Our superpowers were fanciful, funny, clever and sometimes poignant. In What’s Your Superpower? you can have any superpower, as long as it’s not a real one like Superman or the Flash. And, most importantly, playing What’s Your Superpower? distracted my friends from their other pastime: ridiculing me for wearing a dive watch.
|When you wear a dive watch, you have|
powers beyond imagination. Photo by
Samuel Chan from the Grand SeikoOwners Club.
It was gentle ribbing, but the words still stung. “Are you going to bungee jump into the Pacific?” (That was from Christopher.) “You won’t need lead weights around your scuba suit; your watch is big enough to carry you down.” (Abe’s spoken thoughts.) About five hundred miles ago we stopped to get water bottles and Milky Way bars at a 7-11. It was drizzling. “I volunteer Dan to go out in the rain to pick up supplies. He’s got the dive watch,” Kathy said.
I should have expected the ribbing, because they’re right. Who needs a watch that’s water resistant to 1000 meters when the wettest I’m going to get my watch is a shower’s gentle drizzle. I’m no diver. I can’t even remember the last time I swam in a pool or waded into the ocean. (In my defense, redheads visit the beach at their own peril.) I bought this beautiful, British technological marvel of a watch because it’s fun. There’s nothing wrong with having fun. The Christopher Ward C60 Trident Elite 1000’s dial is one of the most gorgeous blues I’ve ever laid eyes on. The blue bezel reminds me photographs I’ve seen of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral. The watch is fashioned out of titanium, the same stuff they use to make submarines, which means it’s impervious to nearly everything, including shark bites — not that I’d ever get closer to a shark than at an aquarium — and it keeps great time, too.
I was eating a tuna melt sandwich and drinking a Diet Coke at Tim’s Joint, the diner off I-40 a few miles from Flagstaff, Arizona we had stopped at, when Christopher put his burger down, pointed to my watch, and blurted out, “You can dive 1000 meters underwater without a scuba tank. That’s your superpower.”