After perusing the menus and placing our orders, it didn't take us long to exhaust the "what are you having?" type conversations. We lapsed into silence. I stared vaguely around the table, wishing our food would arrive. The waitress had left straws on the table for us. Curly picked up her chopsticks and idly amused herself by trying to pick up her straw with them. When she finally succeeded, holding the straw aloft, she glanced up to find that the three of us were watching her.
"I'm sorry, I don't know why I felt it necessary to pick up my straw," she began in embarrassment. "I was just practicing."
I told her, "What would be cool, you should pick up your straw, pull off the wrapper, and put it in your drink. All with chopsticks."
"Yeah," Powers joked, "with just one set of chopsticks."
"No, with two sets," suggested Daisy.
"Here, I'll help." I picked up my chopsticks and touched the other end of the straw. It had started out as a joke, but now it was a good way to fend off boredom and forced conversation while we waited for our meal. Curly and I quickly became engrossed in trying to remove the wrapper from the straw, each using just one set of chopsticks. Powers also insisted that we also each were only allowed to use one hand.
The plastic chopsticks were slippery, and it wasn't easy. We took turns trying different techniques -- pulling, twisting, using the straw itself as a cutting edge. At one point the straw went spinning off the table onto the floor. Curly thought the game was over, but I donated my straw, also still wrapped, and we continued. It took quite awhile -- but what else was there to do?
Finally we hit on the technique of one person pinning the straw to the table while the other person carefully picked at the wrapper. It was hard work, and my attention was fully captivated by this minute task. I slowly managed to tear off the top, then carefully pull off the edge, exposing a centimeter or two of straw. Then I pinned down the exposed end, while Curly slowly eased the wrapper off. The straw was cleared!
Even then the game was not over, because when we first put the straw into the glass it bounced off the ice and fell onto the table. Diligence and teamwork persisted, and eventually we got the straw into my glass of water. Success! We high-fived. I took a deep swallow of water through the straw and sighed in satisfaction.
Then Curly looked at her glass. "How come after all that I still don't have a straw in my glass?"
"Well, that's your straw on the floor, we used my straw so we had to put it in my glass."
The game over, I looked around. Still no food. "Darn, that was too easy, we should have taken longer...." Then I noticed that Powers was staring emptily off into space. "What's the matter, are you so humiliated by our escapades that you've escaped to your Happy Place to pretend you don't know us?"
"No, just bored."
"Well you should try the straw game, it's really fun! Well, kind of fun. It passes the time, at least."
He glanced at his straw, still wrapped, and his chopsticks. "No I don't think so."
"I know! You should try it with a fork! We did it the Chinese way, you should do it the American way."
"A fork and a knife!" suggested Daisy.
Powers looked at this place-setting again. "No. It's not going to happen."
"Oh. Well. Can I have your straw?"
"I'll help!" Curly picked her straw up from the floor where it had fallen during the last game. She wielded her fork, but I refused to use my own knife. "That straw's been on the floor." She donated her knife to the cause, saying she wouldn't need it. We then proceeded to slowly unwrap the second straw together, then with coordination insert it into her glass of water. We clinked glasses, then each took a satisfying sip of water. Success, yet again!
Now on a roll, we started looking over the table for other challenges to try to convince Powers and Daisy to take on. There were no more wrapped straws, but... "Maybe they could try mixing the hot-sauces together with chopsticks?"
"That could get messy. Hmm, something with the candle?"
"Umm....see those curtains? Wait forget everything, the food's finally here!"
After we'd eaten, Powers' fortune cookie told him, "You will always live in interesting times." We speculated what that could mean.
"I think I'll just keep getting reborn, again and again, whenever times are interesting."
"Or maybe," I said, "it means you'll never die. Because times are always interesting in one fashion or another."
"He'll probably stay alive until all the interesting times are over. Until everything is so boring, that everybody on earth is reduced to removing straw wrappers with chopsticks. Then you'll just drop dead."
"We should make a movie of that!"
"No of Powers, of his life where the fortune cookie was true. Where he lived through all the interesting times in the universe. Then it would end in a dark restaurant, and every table would have a couple of people trying to remove straw wrappers with chopsticks."
"Except a few people would be using a knife and fork."
"And Powers would just sit there, looking around, the interesting times are over -- take me now!"
"Powers the movie. Wait, isn't there already a Powers movie?"
"No, the movie would be the fortune cookie. You Will Always Live In Interesting Times."