Time Traveler's Lament
I went back in time today. It wasn't very hard. People are always like, "I wish I had a time machine!" And I'm all, "Well, why don't you build one?" So that's what I did this morning. Not really a whole lot to it.
I wanted to go back in time because I have a three-year-old niece, and she's hilarious. This morning, she told her sister, "Mommy's going to teach me to roller skate at Hooters." Last week, when her big sister said, "I believe in Jesus," she replied, "I believe in the boogeyman." And last year, I was playing jump-on-the-couch-since-Mommy-and-Daddy-aren't-home with her, and all of a sudden she stopped, turned to me, and said, "Clayton--I could kill you."
And so I got to wondering...was I hilarious when I was three?
I figured it was worth finding out.
So I threw together the time machine and set the dial for 1986. I loaded the fuel tank with La Croix, pulled down on the lap bar, and pushed the "Okay, Go" button. And with the trademark Whum-POOF! I was off into the timestream.
It worked like a charm, obviously. I made it back to 1986 with no problem. But I'd forgotten one very important thing: Time machines take you through time, but they do not take you through space.
I didn't live in Chicago in 1986, I lived in Ballwin, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis. So now I'm in Chicago, and three-year-old me is being either hilarious or not hilarious about 300 miles away. What a pain. But that's not a huge deal, because I could still get down there. I could fly out of O'Hare, or I could take the Amtrak. Heck, I'd probably have the same Amtrak car now, in 1986, that I did last time I took it to St. Louis, in 2014. Or I could walk. It's not like I'm going to run out of time.
No, the fact that three-year-old me is in Missouri isn't a problem. The fact that where my house now stands used to be a fairly busy road? That's a problem. The very second--I mean, the very second--that I popped into 1986, I got creamed by an Oldsmobile.
So now I'm dead. I'm dead, and it's 1986, making me the world's oldest deceased three-year-old. My wife's going to have no idea where I went, my next book's never going to get published, and now I'll never find out if I was a hilarious toddler or not.
This is why people don't time travel.