June 14, 2007
Bayview, San Francisco
It was nigh bout three years ago in San Francisco, at a barbecue at the Haunted Barn. After dinner, everyone else but us had gone to shoot fireworks on the toxic beach overlooking the power plant by the nuclear wasteland out back. This writer and her date, already overstimulated from a day of sunshine and jackassery, chose instead to relax on the couch in Mark Perez’s old room.
We had just watched Brian Greene’s Nova special on The Elegant Universe a couple days previously — a triple feature with Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth and the cheesy-yet-somehow-quite-inspirational What the Bleep Do We Know? (we call the latter an “after-school special for adults”) — so we were all fired up on the fact that soon, we might be able to see through The Matrix. Any day now, with just a little bit of faith and brain exercise, we’d be able to use Jedi powers to stop bullets with our minds and divert policemen from illegal Bike Rodeo shows.
And then we wanted some potato chips from on that counter over there. But the counter got built way far away from the couch where we were busy lounging, embroiled in wanton relaxation and Obi-Wan fantasy. We scrunched up our face and reached our arm out toward the chips in the international bratty pose for “gimme.”
We really wanted those chips. Needed salt and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. To go with the Pabst.
So why not try it out. We held our arm there. Reaching, reaching, bony elbow overextended, fingers crawling into the air towards the chips.
“What, are you gonna use The Force to float those chips over to your hand?,” the date said.
“Yes. Yes indeed.”
We weren’t sure if we were kidding … then we told ourselves firmly we weren’t. Reach, reach, reach.
Silence in the room. Bemused look on date’s face.
“There’s nobody here,” he said. “Listen to the fireworks outside.”
“Still,” we said. “They shall be mine. Oh yes.”
“I’m not getting up off this couch to bring those chips to you,” the date said. “That’s not how it’s going to work.”
“Don’t worry about it,” we said. “Mind your own business.”
“You’re gonna have to gimme a dollar when you fail as a Jedi,” the date said.
More silence and bemusement. Our confidence started to falter. Then, remembering Brian Greene’s cheerful explanation of there being eleven different dimensions, it turns out, instead of the 3 or 4 or whatever … we reached further.
Just then, a figure walked past the doorway. We were facing the door, and it was ajar, and we hadn’t heard a sound, and yet — was it a ghost? …
No. It was Rominator X. We think she was laying down barefoot in the costume room next door, because she was CREEPING. She paused, and leaned back and cocked her head in the doorway, wondering about the silence and this writer’s strained position on the couch.
She stepped inside the room and looked from our hand to see the object of our psychic one-hand-jazzing … and she looked to the chips … and to our hand … and to the chips … and pointed at the bag and raised her eyebrows.
Do you want these? her face said. By way of nodding yes, we intensified our gaze and drew our outstretched hand into a powerful kung-fu wizard’s claw of absolute concentration.
So she grabbed the chips and walked over and handed them to us.
We smiled victoriously, and turned to our flabbergasted date.
“Turns out you don’t get a dollar,” we said.
“Whatever it takes,” he said.
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