I say I haven’t traveled much, but that’s not entirely true. Some twenty-odd years ago, I did quite a bit of traveling. But it wasn’t the traditional plane-train-automobile sort of thing.
Of course, nobody knew this, because the beauty of time traveling is that you can be gone as long as you like and still get back before you left. With no scheduling issues to consider, it’s easy to, say, take a quick trip to the 1800s as a little break in the middle of a hectic work week.
My foray into time travel was completely happenstance. I thought I was walking in to a phone booth to make a call. It looked like a phone booth – one of the old “police box” style ones – from the outside, anyway. As soon as I’d walked through the doors into what appeared to be another dimension (and was, in fact), I realized that my phone card was not going to work here. It was too late; I happened to venture in just as the time machine was departing for parts (and times) unknown. My Partner in Time, an ageless fellow whom I knew only as The Doctor, was kind enough to invite me to tag along with him.
I figured, what the hell.
It was unfortunate that this particular time machine had a GPS that was slightly cattywampus. Sometimes you knew where you were going to end up….but you rarely knew when you were going to end up. As a result, even the best-laid plans tended to go dreadfully awry. Oh, the vacation in ancient Italy sounded like a good idea. Until the whole volcano thing. There was nothing in the Pompeii Travel brochure about that. And I’d checked the weather forecast; it said ‘partly cloudy with a chance of precipitation’ not ‘partly cloudy with a chance of being buried by volcanic ash.’
Speaking of travel brochures, there was a reason why hotel rooms were so cheap in Hawaii in December. In 1941.
I could have skipped that whole Roman Empire escapade. That Caligula fellow was just not right any way you looked at it. And if I’d known he had a thing for redheads (“a thing” meaning he thought they made the best sacrifices to the gods of fertility), I would have gone back to blonde.
I wish I had countermanded the decision to take Genghis Khan for “a little ride around the 1200s.” Likewise the wearing of the Joan of Arc Halloween costume on that trip to the 1430s (saying I looked “hot” in it, by the way, my good Doctor, was not funny).
We weren’t supposed to influence events, of course, just blend in and observe. That was the biggest challenge. It was difficult not to interfere when someone was about to do some colossally dumbass thing that you knew was going to end up in the history book chapter titled “Biggest Disasters of the Past 1,000 Years.”
We learned about the not interfering part the hard way, when we decided to take the Wright Brothers on a little jaunt into the future to show them how their aeroplane thing turned out. Thanks to the cattywampus GPS we ended up in the middle of World War II. When Orville and Wilbur saw their flying machines being used as weapons of destruction, they promptly washed their hands of the whole project. We had to do major damage control (including showing them man walking on the moon and scaring the bejesus out of Neil Armstrong) to set them back on course. Talk about almost totally f’ing up history.
We did end up helping things along sometimes. I dutifully sat for hours in an itchy getup and dark wig while DaVinci painted my portrait. And it was difficult to keep a straight face when my time travel partner was standing behind the artist making faces at me. I really never could completely wipe the smile off my face.
Don’t engage me in a discussion of historical events, because I know things you don’t. Cleopatra was blonde. Napoleon wore women’s underwear. Edgar Allan Poe was afraid of spiders. Colonel Sanders was a vegetarian. And I know why the Mona Lisa is smiling. That whole conspiracy theory that the trip to the moon was faked? Bullshit. It happened. We spent a LOT of time erasing the hopscotch grid we’d drawn in the moondust.
The opportunity to travel through time (albeit randomly) was priceless, and I remember my time-travel days fondly. I had to give them up when my (other) doctor told me it was bad for my blood pressure. I told him I didn’t think it was so much the time travel event as it was ending up in Pompeii in 79 AD or on the Titanic on April 14. Whatever the cause, my blood pressure is much lower now. My Accidental Death by Historic Disaster insurance premium is also much lower, and I don’t have to spend nearly as much money constantly updating my wardrobe. I really didn’t have thing to wear for the Crusades.
You probably don’t believe any of this, and I daresay I can’t prove it. I don’t know where (or when) the Doctor is right now. Internet connectivity is spotty at best between time rifts, and he’s often out of touch. But once in awhile he gets a connection at an intergalactic Starbucks and I get a t-mail from him (kind of a time travel version of e-mail). Perhaps he’ll be able to read this blog and comment. Otherwise, it’s just my word against yours.
Proof or no proof, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.