It’s just after bedtime at the Best Dad Evar household. Best Dad is in the family garage seizing a few moments of quiet. The remnants of a massive shoving-aside project are evident all around him, with boxes, books and piles of stuff stacked to eye level on every available flat surface on either side of the borrowed electric car and its charging station. The clearance on either side of the vehicle suggests that Best Dad will have to back the car out of the garage and into the driveway before loading anyone else into the car. Best Dad is also squeezed into place next to the car, which is far nicer than any of the stuff that surrounds it. He’s checking tonight’s charge-up.
“So, you’re analyzing how much this power-up is costing you, right?” the Narrator voice ends the silence.
Best Dad’s face displays its ever-present slight tinge of annoyance, “I always think about how much things are costing me.”
“So, how much?” the Narrator asks the next logical question.
“Huh?” Best Dad plays dumb, or was he just not paying enough attention?
“How much is this costing?” the Narrator shows the ultimate in patience.
“Well,” there is a long pause, “I haven’t quite figured that out yet.”
“So what are you really doing out here?” the Narrator asks pointedly.
Best Dad Evar chuckles softly, “Honestly?”
“I’m thinking.” Best Dad says, as if that answers the question.
“About?” the Narrator is now curious.
“Sometimes I have philosophical thoughts.”
“Really?” the Narrator is genuinely surprised. “Like what?”
“You know, like ‘What are we here on this Earth for?’ and ‘What does it all mean?’”
“And staring at this car and its charging station help you figure those things out?” the Narrator asks, with a bite of sarcasm.
Best Dad laughs, but not bitterly. “No, not really.” He sighs deeply. “Sometimes the ‘meaning of life’ questions are too deep and I end up thinking about random stuff.”
“Like, if this car could talk, what do you think it would say?”
There’s a long pause, which Best Dad could interpret as the Narrator taking a moment to carefully consider his response. “Well,” the Narrator starts, pausing for effect, “You know there are certain benefits to being an all-knowing, all-seeing Narrator.”
“What, you mean you can talk to cars?” Best Dad is incredulous, but clearly he’s going to press the issue further.
“If the car could talk, I know what it would say.” the Narrator says cryptically.
“Well, can it?” now it’s Best Dad’s turn at patience with the Narrator’s coyness. Best Dad’s not big on patience, in general.
“No, not hypothetically, actually!” Best Dad is annoyed now. Perturbed even.
“Well, I didn’t say I would tell you if it could talk.”
“You are a fucking tease!” Best Dad is shouting now. “Just tell me what it would say!”
“Continuous Power,” the Narrator says simply.
Best Dad’s mouth curls up into a puzzled smirk. “What does that mean? The car wants to rule the world?” Disbelief and disdain are evident on his face now.
“Think about it.” the Narrator leads.
“Not political power.”
“No.” the Narrator’s voice suggests he should go on.
“Power, as in electricity.”
“It is an electric car,” the Narrator now indicates that he’s caught on.
“It would want a continuous power source.”
“If it could talk.”
“Right. But that’s-”
The Narrator quickly cuts in, “Don’t say ‘That’s impossible’!”
“No, I wasn’t going to say that.” Best Dad has now caught the thread, his hand rests on his chin, rubbing it in the classic manner of a thinker. “I was thinking that’s not what this car was designed for.”
“Nonetheless…” the Narrator is going to let him puzzle this through.
“Huh.” Best Dad continues to think this over, he’s clearly interested in this line of thought. “How would you bring continuous power to a car like this one?”
“I know a lot, but I can’t see the future, Best Dad Evar.”
“Good to know,” he says, but clearly this conversation is going further.
“Okay, but you said you could speak hypothetically.” Best Dad picks up the thread again.
“No can do.” the Narrator replies. “It seems like a pretty simple problem to solve, though.”
“Simplicity isn’t my strong suit. I’m more of a big idea kind of guy.”
“Yes, you are, aren’t you. You’re long on big ideas but short on the nuts and bolts.”
“Well, maybe continuous power is another big idea that you’ll think about for a moment but leave to someone else to figure out how to solve the problem of actually doing it.” the Narrator says sadly.
“Maybe so, but you said it’s simple.” For once, Best Dad is going to play the bulldog and not give up on this one.
“It seems simple. An electric car that’s surrounded by appliances and devices that are continuously powered.”
“The seemingly simple solution would be to somehow connect the electric car to the same grid that powers that other stuff.” Best Dad is on a roll!
“That’s what I was thinking.”
“But the obvious problem is that the car is moving.”
“Aha! Yes, that’s the rub, isn’t it.”
“And that’s where I usually give up.” Best Dad says sadly but not dejectedly.
“You sure?” the Narrator nudges.
“Well,” there’s a pause as Best Dad convinces himself to take the next logical step. “There could be an electrified track that the car could connect to.
“Not an unprecedented solution.” The Narrator points out helpfully. “The buses in San Francisco still use a system like that.” There’s a pause. “Or?” The Narrator nudges again.
“Or, well, we have a wireless charger for that portable tablet thingy.” Best Dad holds up a finger as if to forestall the end of the discussion. “Maybe the technology will someday advance to a point where that kind of system will deliver enough power to keep a car moving.”
“Now you’re talking.” the Narrator sounds impressed.
“Yeah, but all of this is just idle chit-chat.” Best Dad throws in the towel.
“Why?” the Narrator sounds crestfallen by this turn of Best Dad’s mojo for the worse.
“Because I’ll never have the money or the position to even experiment with the possible solutions to these technical problems.”
“No, you probably never will. But every big advance starts with an idea, right?”
“So?” Best Dad clearly doesn’t see the point any more.
“So, maybe just having the idea is enough.” this smacks a bit of desperation.
“Not if no one ever hears of it.” Best Dad heaves himself away from the box labeled ‘Extension cords’, but which might actually contain Christmas dishes or ten year-old papers still left unfiled, and turns toward the door that will take him back into the maelstrom, er, the house.
“True, so how could we make sure at least a few people hear about continuous power, Best Dad Evar?” the Narrator shouts after him as he walks away.
Best Dad Evar throws up his hands but doesn’t turn around. “I have no idea.”