On Sunday nights my father would make a plate of vegetables on an extra-large serving plate. Carrots, cucumber, green pepper, radish and a giant beetle, just kidding, were served up weekly, and often with a tub of dip in the middle, either a clam or shrimp variety, which my father made with cream cheese, the canned seafood with a little of the reserved juice, chopped onions, and some Worcestershire and lime juice.
We’d sit around the plate like it was an offering to a king or queen, and wait for our father to signal that we could touch it. I remember eating the carrots and staring out the window at the mobile home across the street and trying to see through the siding like Superman when he’s hovering above the city with his hands on his hips looking for trouble, since my father had told us carrots were good for eyesight. “If I eat enough of them, will I develop x-ray vision?” I said. “It’s possible,” he said. So, I kept eating them
while imagining the connections in my eyeballs firing with golden light meant to transform my ocular nerve into a kind of long-range x-ray machine.
I was intent on walking off the cliff at the edge of my ordinary humanity, and flying like Jonathan Livingston Seagull over the ocean while looking to pull the bullets out of a war like the one that could happen any day now in Ukraine.
Then, I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, probably when I realized perfection was unattainable, I stopped believing in the whole x-ray vision thing, and carrots, usually the cooked variety, became one of those things you eat and don’t spit out when you’re over a friend’s house and don’t want to insult his family’s cooking.