What would you change?

I’m reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63 which, in case you’re living under a rock and haven’t heard, is about a guy who goes back in time and attempts to prevent the assassination of JFK.

King presents Kennedy’s assassination as a watershed moment in history, and I don’t disagree with that argument.  I’d say 9/11 would be another one.

So, my question is, if you could somehow go back and prevent anything, what would it be?

For me, there’s the big ones, JFK and 9/11 of course.

I don’t know how Stephen King has plotted it out, but for JFK, I’d point out that I saw some suspicious-looking dude go into the library with a big gun.  Oh, and you may wanna check that grassy knoll over there while you’re at it.

As for 9/11, I’d probably just call in a whack of bomb threats.  One to each of the Trade Center buildings and the specific flights as well.  Though I think it would likely just delay the event, not kill it.

I’d like to go back and fix the voting debacle of 2000 that led to George W getting into office.  Don’t know how I’d fix that one…maybe take some of his future speeches on video…no…on second thought, Americans voted him in a second time, so that wouldn’t work.

Try and save those people on the Shuttle disasters.

I’d stop the Martin Luther King assassination.

Could I do something about Korea and Vietnam?  I’d try.

I’d try and take out Hitler before he became powerful.  Maybe get him into art college and let him spout his crap to fellow students, instead of the world.

I’d go back and kick Mark David Chapman right in the balls a few minutes before John Lennon came home.  Really hard.  That one I’d truly enjoy.

I don’t know how much I could change, but there’s a few people I’d really like to have some conversations with them.  And there’s some people I’d talk to a lot less.  And others I’d have stronger conversations much sooner.

For example, I’d go back and try and talk to my father before he gave up on life.  Hell, I’d probably go back at several points in his life and ask him what the hell he was thinking.  Then again, I could do that with quite a few people.

I’d probably do the same with my sister.  Or maybe I’d just find the guy who would eventually ask her out, then marry her and, before he could cause all that damage, I’d kick him in the balls too.  Even harder than Chapman.  And I’d enjoy that one too.  Hell, if I see Brian today, I’d probably do that.

I’d have a long talk with my step-father a few days before Christmas 1980 about the massive mistake he was going to make on Christmas day.  I’d try and fix that whole thing.  Maybe my mom’s marriage wouldn’t have gone so spectacularly off the rails in the span of a few hours.

There’s likely a few more things that I’m just too tired to think of, but there’s one more that I’d do.  This one would, pardon the pun, take some time, but it would be worth it.

I’d write up a list of people and timeframes.  I’d hand-write it so it would be recognizable as me.  And I’d document who to listen to, who to stay away from, and why.  Who to trust, who not to, and why.  But mostly, I’d explain to the skinny, shy, lonely, insecure kid that things would work out.  That, as shitty as life sometimes got, as hard as many situations seemed to be to deal with, as cruel as some people could be, that it would be okay.  I’d explain to that kid that things would get better and that, even though he would always take the long way around to finding his path, and would second-guess himself a lot along the way, that things would work out.  That life, while not perfect, would be pretty damn good.

And then I’d go give that written document to myself when I was about seven years old.

And one last thing…I’d tell him  to never play baseball with Jimmy Baldwin on a Sunday.  Especially when he was ten years old.

That’s gonna save him a whole lotta dentist trips.


8 thoughts on “What would you change?

  1. Funny you should mention this.
    Two weeks ago on Family Guy (Season 10 Episode 5) they looked at the same issue. Stewie and Brian went to January 31st 1999, the season premiere. Brian told his 1999 self about 9/11, and in 2001 – 9/11 was prevented by Brian.
    Good, you say…
    But they fast-forwarded to the future and it turned out there was global chaos despite 9/11 being prevented….
    Moral is, changing the past does not necessarily imply something good will happen.

    I would have just kept all my child-hood toys, not only for the sentimental value but those would have been worth something! All of them were just tossed in the trash.

    • Wow, Taiyab…you seriously got a moral teaching from…Family Guy???? And you’re right, changing or preventing something from occurring doesn’t mean everything will turn out great. There’s no guarantees. It’s the law of entropy…everything decays and falls back to chaos…

      And I hear ya about the toys. I had several thousand comic books that I eventually sold for about $8000. If I had them now, I could have paid off my house and both my cars and still had cash to burn.


    • Someday, there may be a memoir, Mary, but I still have to figure out how to do it without sounding maudlin most of the time!

      Funny enough, I’ve had a story percolating in my head for decades (yes, really, decades) based on an incident that happened when I was maybe four years old. I could have dreamed it, but I’ve relayed the details to my mother and she can, based on my description, pinpoint which car we owned and where we lived… Anyway, I remember heading home late at night. I was in the back seat of the car and, just before we turned into our driveway, I looked out the window and saw a man standing by the side of the road. He looked right at me.

      He wasn’t creepy, he didn’t look mean, nothing like that. But when I turned to my mother and asked, “Who’s that?” then turned back to point, he was gone. My parents never saw anyone.

      I’ve always floated this story idea that…what if it was me? What if I was the guy by the road and I showed up at different times just to nudge a kid in the right direction, or to let him know someone was looking out for him, or guiding him.

      One of these days…maybe the memoir would be written more from that kind of perspective. That I could do.

      By the way, congrats on the new blog. Everyone who reads my blog needs to check out Camera Combo.

  2. This got me thinking, as bad as some of these occurances were, would we actually change them? The lessons learned, the changes brought on because of them. I dunno, it would be hard, mainly because I feel the price paid for those lessons was too high. Push come to shove, lessons be damned, I would try my best to prevent a lot of them and 911 tops the list.

    As a writer, though, the thought occurs to me, would we acctually be able to change any of them or would we just stop it for that moment only to have it happen somewhere else or some place else?

    I’d love to see you kick Chapman! And from the sounds of him, I’d hold Brian so you could kick him not once, but until your leg got tired.

    • I agree Dale. While lessons were learned from 9/11 and the JFK assassinations…the world also lost its innocence. Though that could also be said for the Holocaust as well. And in both cases (Holocaust and 9/11), the price of learning was too high.

      And again, I also wondered if things could ever be changed…or would the events simply be delayed? Maybe, price tag or not, these were lessons that needed to be taught. Who knows?

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