Soon I realized he had the same effect on appliances, vehicles, repairmen, and at one point, law enforcement. His aura, if you will, took months to wear off – and so it was usually about the fourth month of a deployment that the washer would not only walk away from the wall with thundering fury, but also pull its apparatus loose with phenomenal speed and spray a physics-defying amount of space with dirty, soapy water. By month five I was either on foot patrol or still pissed off about having paid a gut-punching $1,700 to a "mechanic" to have the "engine fixed." (For the record, there was nothing wrong with the engine. Robert spent his first week back from that deployment fixing the transmission as well as the costly "repair.")
$300 windshield wipers? What kind of "military discount" is that?
One of the things that most attracted me to him was his uncanny calming effect on animals and small children. When he was a young father, his children generally minded their manners. Come day 90 of any given deployment, though, our son would develop a keen sense of where every gutter-side sharp metal object in the neighborhood was located and our daughter seemed to think it was her job to take risks on behalf of her dad since he wasn't around to do it.
They didn't always heed his existence. Until they knew of his superpowers, they made him aware of theirs. I came home from a late shift one night to hear him tell of our very young daughter having wielded a butcher knife. He'd been making dinner and turned around to answer the phone. When he turned back, she looked at him in triumph and awaited a parade of honor for having so deftly acquired this awesome treasure.
Instead of standing still, lowering his voice (and his person) and coaxing her to put it on the floor so he, too, could have a better look at the shiny, fascinating object she'd found, he screamed like a girl and charged her. Naturally the knife went straight up into the air and he barely knocked her out of the way before it stabbed the linoleum. "I was only turned around for two seconds!" Which is of course 1.999 seconds too long when dealing with a two-year-old.
His superpowers were his soft side, the flip of which was his unsentimental regard for what he still calls "forced romance." Of his own accord he would, and still does, sometimes bring me flowers "just because." He heroically pulled a sorely needed home out of thin air and has wrestled his share of furniture, large appliances and enormous swaths of carpet to the ground just to make me happy.