And I got thinking that with time travel movies you always get all these cliches like going back to kill Hitler or save Ann Frank or whatever like that. Or going back to buy a lottery ticket or bet on a sports team so I get rich. Even Quantum Leap pretty much every episode was about fixing someone's life. That stuff is like when someone asks, "Who would you have dinner with?" and you say Jesus or Einstein or MLK Jr or Gandhi or someone like that when in reality I'd have dinner with early 90s Cindy Crawford or if I'm being less of a pig one of my favorite authors, though I'd probably just embarrass myself in both cases. Anyway, those other ones are just so cliche and disingenuous.
But what about the more benign uses of time travel? So, let's say I have a time machine but with a couple of rules:
- I can't make any real changes to the timeline--nothing I do will affect anything, there is no "butterfly effect" or anything. I can't buy a lottery ticket or bet on sports or buy stocks or deposit something in a savings account to get rich.
- I can't interact with people I already know. I mean it'd be cool to go back and see my dad or my sister or my various uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents, but that's so maudlin. Let's have fun!
OK, so what are the things I would do if I could go back in time then? The first thing that occurs to me is I'd go back to like 1995 and get myself a double olive burger combo from Hot n Now in Midland. Or maybe I'd get a couple dozen of them. I'd basically be like Wimpy in Popeye or Jughead in Archie.
One of the next things I'd do is go back to 1985-1987 and go to Toys R Us and Children's Palace. Even if I didn't buy anything it'd be so neat just to see all the old Transformers, GI Joe, and other toys. Maybe get myself another gray with brown spots Pound Puppy. Since I talked about it a couple months ago I could get the original Robotech toys and models. If I could I'd take a whole paycheck and just buy the complete Transformers line for a year.
Though really it'd be neat to just go through some of those old stores that don't exist anymore to look around and see the old stuff like clothes, appliances, food products, and so on. I wouldn't necessarily want to eat C3PO or Mr. T cereal but it'd be fun to see it on the shelves. And it'd be fun to see how ridiculously inexpensive it would be compared to current prices.
Speaking of, it'd be fun if I could get on some of those old game shows I watched as a kid but was too young to actually play like the Price is Right, Press Your Luck, Let's Make a Deal, or Supermarket Sweep. Though the problem would be I'd probably overestimate all the prices of stuff.
Besides the double olive burger at Hot n Now you know what else would be good? Fried chicken from Hardee's! Or Long John Silver's used to have these really good wraps. When I worked at Burger King in 1997 they had a really good Big Mac clone. Or go back to all the Chinese buffet places that have closed but used to have a few really good items. Let's face it I could just eat my way through the last 30 years.
It'd also be cool to say go to The Empire Strikes Back when it first comes out or other movies like that when they're fresh--for everyone else. To get a little maudlin it'd be great to go to concerts from bands that have broken up and/or have a member(s) who've died like the Cranberries, REM, the Beatles, or of course Elvis Presley. I mean you can listen to albums but wouldn't it be sweet to actually hear it live with your own ears?
It would also be cool to go back to July 20, 1969 for the first moon landing. I wouldn't have to be on the moon but just around to soak up the atmosphere. Or June 1997 when the Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup in 42 years. (I saw it the first time but why not see it again?) I'm sure there are some other good days to go back to: the Berlin Wall, VE/VJ Day in 1945, Obama's inauguration when all but the most hateful people had hope?
I never really went to arcades because the only ones near us were in the malls and we didn't really have time or money for those, but it might be neat to play the original Pac-Man arcade game or Frogger or Asteroids or whatever.
Books aren't really as important for me in this scenario. I mean I don't care if I read a first edition John Irving book or a reprint. I suppose some people might get a kick out of reading a first edition Carrie or Harry Potter or LOTR.
Since travel would probably cost a lot less in the past I could probably fly first class to Europe or take a train across the country in a sleeper car or something. It would be pretty sweet.
So time travel stories don't have to be about trying to kill people or stopping people from being killed or almost having sex with your mom or grandma; there's plenty of stuff you can do that's fun and benign. Maybe you can even think of some on your own. If you were reading, which you probably weren't. Maybe I should go back in time to when people read this blog...when was that? Never. Now's who's being maudlin?