My brother often says that if we had the ability to time travel for just ten minutes, he’d go back 25 years to visit our parents when they were still alive.
I imagine that after he tells them he comes from the future, he’d want to tell them that he loves them and wishes they were still here. If he’s at a loss for words, he’ll likely mention that Johnny Carson long ago left “The Tonight Show.”
After all, that’s something my mother would want to know, on account she was once Johnny’s biggest fan. She even took me to see a show taping, and I had to lie and say I was 16 in order to be part of the studio audience, when in actuality I was barely 14. We stood for hours, waiting to get in and when we finally did, we learned that Johnny was off that night and had a guest host in his stead, a man who moonlighted as a game show host. The news left my mother completely crestfallen.
My father might want to know who’s the president in 2018 or how the New York Mets are faring. If that happens, my brother’s response might be, “How much time do we have?”
Now, if I go back in time, I envision it’d be like it was in my favorite play, “Our Town,” when Emily, one of the main characters, gets to choose what moment in her youth she gets to go back to after she’s dead. Emily chooses the morning of her twelfth birthday. I might choose the moment right after I gave birth to my daughter and my mother asked me whether I was going to include our family surname as part of my daughter’s name, as I had once done for my son. No, I had glibly replied. She won’t need it. (After all, I had been thinking to myself, that I’ll be married forever and her father’s surname was all she’d ever need.)
Of course, we all know how that turned out. (Badly.)
To this day, I regret that I didn’t listen to my mother. So if I went back in time, I would try to make things right or, at the very least, tell her that I was sorry for the omission. (Truly.)
I’d also be sure to tell my parents that my kids are grown up now and we’re all doing fine. My son’s even planning to get married in a few months. We might lament that they can’t attend the wedding and I’d admit that I wouldn’t mind becoming a grandmother.
Now, if my brother could go back in time twice, he’d return to the day of his youngest daughter’s wedding, just to see his friend, Rob, who was among the wedding guests.
No one knew then that inside Rob was growing a tumor. The cancer wouldn’t be diagnosed for another two years, but by then it would be too late. So my brother would go back, just to tell his friend to get a physical, and to look into the small mass growing inside him.
I’ve always been fascinated by time travel. Probably started with a TV series I used to watch called “The Time Tunnel.” It starred James Darren who I first became infatuated with when he played Moondoggie in the “Gidget” films of the early sixties. Ah, Moondoggie!
Well, I’ll never forget the pilot episode. That’s when a tunnel that travels through time and always seems to know the most dire moments in history to return to, lands him aboard the S.S. Titanic—right before it’s sinking!
Moondoggie has to warn everyone on board of the impending iceberg. But that’s the thing about going back in time. Most people have trouble wrapping their heads around news from the future.
Which is why no one believed Moondoggie, who gets locked up for acting like a maniac. Which he’s not. All you have to do is look into his dreamy eyes to know he’s telling the truth.
I mean, if Moondoggie showed up on my doorstep to bring me news of the future, I’d believe him, hook, line and sinker. I’d probably want to know how’s my Apple stock doing, but beyond that, I’d listen to whatever he has to say, unless of course he was telling me to send all my money to some Nigerian Prince.
Don’t scam me, Moondoggie!
Moondoggie landed in countless precarious spots in history (bombing of Pearl Harbor, the eruption of Krakatoa, you name it) and each time no one would believe him. So I guess the moral of the story is you can’t change the past no matter how many times you go back in time because as Doris Day once sang, “the future’s not ours to see.”
Still, here’s what I’d say to Moondoggie if I could go back in time and visit him the set of “The Time Tunnel”:
Watch those Nielsen ratings, Moondoggie. Your show about time-travel is about to be canceled.
How about you? If you could go back in time, who would you visit and what would you say?