France in an Instant
Did you see the headline from China? They teleported photons over 60 miles,” I said. When David shook his head in the affirmative, I felt a sense of pride in my worldliness. “Yeah, it was in Forbes. I didn’t read the story, but it was right there in the headline — 60 miles. Crazy, right? The future is now, beh-beh, teleportation. Could you imagine if we get to a point in our lifetimes when they can actually teleport people and stuff?”
“You know, that’s my chosen superpower,” David said.
“Didn’t you have two? What was your other one?”
“Oh, right. That’s creepy. Stick with teleportation.”
“What do you mean, creepy? Why do you always have to go negative with stuff?”
“Negative? Tell me one thing you’d use the power of invisibility for that isn’t creepy.”
“Say there’s a famous painter and you want to see how he works, and —”
“Creepy,” I said, punctuating the word with a shiver to let David know how much I meant it. “Either he’s cool with you hanging out and watching and learning or you’re sneaking around and he doesn’t know you’re there, which is totally creepy.”
“What you’re saying is invisibility can only be used for creepy or nefarious purposes, that there’s no positive for invisibility.”
“Yes,” I said. David fell quiet, presumably because he couldn’t think of any valid, non-creepy reason for skulking around unseen.
We were seated in the living room, on opposite sofas, with a bottle of wine and a bowl of jalapeño Kettle chips on the low table between us. David leaned back, studying the reflection of a flickering candle in his wine glass. “So, what would you do if you could teleport?”
“I’d figure out how to defend my space; you know, make some kind of protective shield so that nobody could just pop up in front of me,” I said. I thought this was clever. It was hard to tell what David was thinking, from the fragmented syllables he was sputtering to the random muscles that twitched around his face. He leaned forward, waved one hand in the air, and let out a phfft of incredulity. “What is wrong with you?”
“Me? What’s wrong with ME?” David expelled a few more incoherent sounds before collecting himself. “You have this amazing power, and all you think about is negative stuff,” he said. “You could go to France in an instant!”
“I don’t think it’s negative, I think it’s practical,” I said. “Say I teleport to France, and then someone pops into my house, steals my shit, and pops out, all before I get back.”
David looked at me the same way he did the time I answered two different phone lines — one on each ear — with the same, “Hello?”
“I thought I was being creative,” I said. “Travel is a given when you talk about teleportation. I was taking it to the next level.”
“I would certainly use it to travel, mainly to go to restaurants and bars, but there are so many layers to that,” David said. “There are places you won’t visit in the world because they have bugs and humidity — if you wanted to, you could just pop in to, say, Thailand for five or ten minutes, experience the view, and then bail.”
“I’d still be away from home,” I said. “You can’t have an amazing power without people who are going to abuse it.”
“What if you could send your shit away directly out of your ass so it doesn’t stink up the bathroom?”
I laughed. “That’s disgusting,” I said. “And then I would really need to protect my space, to make sure other people can’t literally shit all over me.”
“That’s your dad talking,” David said. “Always looking for the danger in every situation.”
“Not true. My dad loves to travel. He’d be all over teleportation.”
“You told me he would read the police blotter out loud to you and your sisters every night over dinner as an object lesson,” David said. “Anyway, if you don’t think he’d come up with the same kind of answer as you did for teleportation, then you’re more your dad than your dad.”
I rolled my eyes and held out my glass for a refill. “You could make a cake and teleport half of it to Stephanie in England and you could have the other half here and it would be like you’re sharing cake on her birthday.”
“If I could teleport, why wouldn’t I just bring the whole cake to her and we could eat it together?” I sighed. “Listen, beh-beh, every invention has a downside. I’m just thinking beyond that. I’m coming up with a way to capitalize on the need people will have for protecting their things.”
“I’m the one who thought about teleporting your poop out of the bathroom. It doesn’t get more innovative than that,” David snapped. “You’d probably have to have a password-protected poop shield around your house so that other people’s poop doesn’t get teleported into your home.”
“I’m hearing a lot on the poop front,” I said.
“If you’re at a restaurant and you have leftovers, you can teleport the leftovers to some starving person in Africa, and you don’t have to take them home.”
“You keep thinking of good ways to use this, but I keep seeing holes in the system,” I said.
“That’s because you’re crazy.”
“No,” I said, “I’m practical.”
“Your dad would be proud.” David smiled to himself. I stayed quiet, letting him have that one, because the idea of making my dad proud, in any capacity, sat well with me.
We sipped and crunched for a few minutes, left to our own thoughts while we checked in with the world via iPhone. “Aha! I got it!” David’s spine straightened with the energy of his epiphany.
“Jesus, you almost made me spill,” I said.
“What if you’re observing gorillas in the mist?” David beamed.
It took me a second to realize what he was talking about. “You mean being invisible to observe nature for the purpose of science?” David nodded. “Okay, you win.”