Jaquandor put up an interesting meme the other day, based around the idea of traveling back in time and encountering an earlier version of yourself. Since I loves me a good Grandfather Paradox, and I've now reached a sufficiently curmudgeonish age to dish out unsolicited advice to younger selves, let's gather up some banana peels and stale beer for the Mr. Fusion and get this DeLorean rolling! Er, hovering. Whatever.
- Depending on your age, go back 10, 15, 20, or even more years.
- Tell us how many years back you have traveled and why.
- Pretend you have met yourself during that era, and tell us where you are.
- You only have one "date" with this former self.
- Answer these questions.
Okay, as we start, what year is it and how old are you?
We've gone back 20 years... it is now October 7, 1990, and I have just recently turned 21 years old. I imagine we're probably standing in the lobby of the Movies 7 multiplex theater in Sandy, Utah -- which would become Movies 9 a year later with the addition of two more auditoriums -- the place where I spent most of my afternoons and evenings around that time.
- Would your younger self (YYS, from here) recognize you when you first meet?
He ought to. I'm fatter and balder than I was at 21, but I don't think my basic features have changed all that much. I'm still recognizably the same guy. (Yes, I had a beard when I was 21, so not even that would throw him off.)
- Would YYS be surprised to discover what you are doing jobwise?
Probably. At 21, I was still under the illusion that I would grow up to be a globetrotting adventurer who finances his expeditions by churning out a best-selling novel every couple of years. I despised big corporations and felt an existential loathing toward the idea of working in a cubicle. So where am I spending my days at the age of 41? You guessed it: in a cubicle, working for one of the biggest corporations on the planet. In advertising, no less. Cruel irony, eh? Unfortunately, the novelist/globetrotter thing hasn't exactly worked out...
- What piece of fashion advice would you give YYS?
Son, the jeans and concert tees are a good look for you -- in fact, you and I will still be wearing them in 2010 -- but you might want to consider dressing up just a bit more once in a while. ZZ Top was not lying to you; for some reason, chicks really dig shirts with collars. Really.
They have some kind of a thing about shoes as well, but I still haven't managed to figure that out.
- What do you think YYS is most going to want to know?
Well, in the fall of 1990, I was deeply hurting because of a break-up earlier that year -- and by "deeply hurting," I mean indulging in such melodramatic brooding that I could have been a character in just about any title published by Marvel Comics -- so I imagine the big question on YYS's mind would be "Will I ever find love love again?" Or at the very least, "Will I ever have sex again?"
- How would you answer YYS's question?
Duh, of course you will, you schmuck! Although it would hasten both matters if you'd cut out the brooding and try asking some girls out on dates. And for god's sake, when they agree to go with out with you, do not spend all night talking about how and why you've been brooding like a character from Marvel Comics! (Oddly enough, that proved not to be a terribly efficacious aphrodisiac during my first journey through the early 1990s. Go figure.)
Also, as long as we're on the subject of dating, here's a tip: quit underestimating yourself. Ask out anyone and everyone who interests you, even if you think they're out of your league, because you just never know. Oh, but be sure to avoid this one girl -- the one I like to refer to as "She Who Shall Remain Nameless." Hooking up with her will seem like a good idea at the time, but trust me, it's really not.
And lastly, be prepared to be very surprised at who you end up with, and how well it all works out...
- What would probably be the best thing to tell YYS?
That 20 years can and will pass much faster than he can imagine, and he needs to be brave and not worry so much about all the possible consequences of every little decision. A little bit of recklessness once in a while is a good thing.
Except when it comes to She Who Shall Remain Nameless. That was a case where it would've been better to consider the consequences first. But otherwise, take some chances! Well, some chances. Chances that don't involve SWSRN. Good chances. Like when your newfound Cambridge buddy Robert wants to take a weekend and go to Florence; that would be a good one to take that I failed to grab the first time around.
Oh, and quit buying all those books and so-called "collectibles," while you still have some space to move around in your basement. Trust me, you'll be a lot happier if you divert all that money into travel instead.
- What is something that you probably wouldn't tell YYS?
That in only a very few years, a sizable number of your fellow Americans are going to suffer a nervous breakdown because there's a Democrat in the White House, and that "Teh Crazy" only gets worse over time. And that the future him will spend a lot of time feeling like he's stumbled into some kind of Bizarro-world, an alien in his own homeland who frankly doesn't get what the hell is going on in America -- or in Utah, especially in Utah -- anymore.
Oh, and also that there are shortly going to be three new Star Wars films but not everyone will like them, and the constant arguing -- not to mention Uncle George's cantankerous attitude toward his own fans -- will drain a lot of the joy out of the whole thing.
The poor kid is a worrier, and he's already got a lot on his mind. He doesn't need that burden, too.
- What do you think will most surprise YYS about you?
Probably that he's going to lose as much hair as he will. Er, I have. This time-travel stuff can be murder on the pronouns.
Anyhow, I already had a receding hairline at 21, but it hadn't receded that much, and the hair I still had was plenty thick. I never imagined that I'd one day be sporting the "Captain Picard horseshoe" effect. I'm not quite there yet, and wearing a ponytail compensates some, but the sad truth I can no longer deny is that, yes, I am bald. And I never thought I would be, not to this extent. I'm still startled sometimes when I see a photograph taken from certain angles.
- What do you think will least surprise YYS?
That I still own the Cruising Vessel, i.e., my old Ford Galaxie.
- At this point in your life, would YYS like to run into "you" from the future?
Meaning, would 21-year-old me like what he's become at 41? Probably not, to be honest. Very few of Younger Me's ambitions have come to pass, and Current Me has a lot of regrets. Most of which revolve around missed opportunities of one sort or another, or shame at the things I've done wrong. I think Younger Me would be disappointed by many of the missteps he took on the way to being me. Maybe even hurt to think he could be so foolish, so short-sighted, so cowardly, so very unlike the way he imagines himself. I know Current Me often feels that way...
Sorry to end this on something of a downer, but hey, at least I didn't prevent my own conception and fade away like a Polaroid left in the sun...