I can't be sure what Edgar Allan Poe meant by this quote: "The past is a pebble in my shoe," but the sentiment fits me, too.
Maybe it's because my high school history teacher's primary duty was to coach the football team to victory. (He failed at that, too.)
But I can't blame Mr. T. forever. I've had ample time to visit the past in a meaningful way, to learn the details of wars, to imagine lunch with the greats of bygone ages.
In his latest movie, "Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen takes us on a trip to the past, giving a contemporary screenwriter a chance to cavort with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and many others from the surveys of English literature even physics majors were required to take.
We see this “poll question” all the time: if you could visit the past, whom would you have lunch with?
Edgar Allan Poe comes to mind. I might ask him if he could sleep at night after writing the "The Tell-Tale Heart." I couldn't, after reading, the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. The same with "The Cask of Amontillado." I was young enough to worry myself sick that I'd hurt someone enough for him to take that level of revenge.
But if I ever did have a chance to time travel, I'd go forward, not back.
I don't want to revisit the time when some women had their lower ribs surgically removed to achieve a more pleasing (to whom?) waistline. And I already know all I want to about the days before plumbing and the zipper and all the iStuff.
I'd like to know what becomes of the Kindle.
It's fun to have my slide rule hanging in my office, as a reminder of earlier times, but I wouldn't want to give up my new 27-inch iMac!
I'd love to go away for a while and rest, and then come back and talk to my grandchildren’s grandchildren. That would put us at around 2060.
Some questions for them:
1. Has there been a First Gentleman in the White House yet?
2. What did Sue Grafton do after Z and how many Reacher novels were there in all?
3. What became of all the little kids at the mall whose mommies told them "Good job!" just for grabbing the sippy cup?
4. Did Keira Knightley’s face ever wrinkle?
5. What’s the official language of the United States?
. . . and more.
Of course I could read sci fi and get someone's idea of the future, or I could write it and make my own predictions.
But I want to know what actually happens, whether there'll be paper books in the year 2100, and did we ever give peace a chance?
What would you want to know?
Camille Minichino is a retired physicist turned writer, the author of The Periodic Table Mysteries. Her akas are Margaret Grace (The Miniature Mysteries) and Ada Madison (The Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries). The first chapter of 'The Square Root of Murder," debuting July 2011, is on her website: http://www.minichino.com.