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One Moment in Time

By Dustin Rowles | Comment Diversions | August 18, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Comment Diversions | August 18, 2009 |

Over the weekend, as bucdaddy is wont to do, he hijacked The Time Traveler’s Wife thread with a question that I liked so much, I’ve decided to dedicate tonight’s comment diversion to it (although, it did get very heavy very quickly over on the TTW thread). For those of you who have already participated, feel free to copy/paste repost your answers from that thread. Otherwise, jump on in. Here’s the topic and bucdaddy’s response:

Among the reasons I think we are fascinated with time-travel books and movies is that we all reach a point in life where we can look back and see three or four or a dozen moments in our lives when if some tiny thing had gone a different direction, if you’d said one thing or done one thing differently, if you’d been 10 seconds earlier or 10 seconds later (“Run, Lola, Run” plays with this idea brilliantly) it would have changed the course of your life and your family’s life and your friends’ lives — dozens or hundreds of people who at the very least would have ended up interacting with a different person or people from those they are now.

You would have changed history for who knows how many people? (“The Butterfly Effect”)

Here’s a true example from my life, probably the stupidest one but because of that the best example:

In college I was casual friends with a girl who I eventually figured out had two large flaws — she was personality-free and she was husband-hunting — that offset two far more obvious assets (it’s BOOBS WEEK!). We’d play tennis and go to movie matinees, and sometimes in the movies we’d do some groping, but we were no way BF and GF (at lest in my mind). Anyway, one day we got to stroking pretty heavy in the theater and I decided to take her back to my dorm room to get my first good look at those two assets. So we get to the room and neck a little and I start to unbutton (“Benjamin Button”!) her shirt, and I get to about the third button and damn if I can undo it. I don’t know if she had a pin through it or what, but I could not work it. This was funny at first, but as it went on it became stupid, then frustrating, and after about two minutes of my hopeless struggles (she didn’t offer to help, and I was too fascinated with why I couldn’t get the damn thing open that it didn’t occur to me to just smile and say, “Hey, why don’t you do a strip tease for me?”), we pretty much bagged it and she went to catch her bus.

I never did get her nekkid, and not long after, when I figured out what she was after, I pawned her off on a friend of mine, rather than just use her, because I liked the girl. My friend had his fun with her for awhile and eventually she did find the husband she was looking for.

I turned out OK anyway, I’m very happy with Mrs. , and we’ve been married for 27 years. Still, it’s interesting to think back and wonder, what if I’d got that button open? We almost certainly would have had some kind of sex. What if it was GREAT sex? Maybe I’d have put aside my qualms about her and we’d have become BF/GF. Maybe we’d have ended up married. I’d never have met my wife, never have had , daughter (or she’d be somebody else — I’ve told her this story as an example of how easily she might not exist) — the entire course of my life might have been very very different.

A button.

And I can think of another 4-5 stories like that, crossroads stories, just off the top of my head. And those are just ones I’m conscious of, I have no idea what other choices were made for me.

So this weekend’s diversion: Do some time traveling and tell us about a mundane, ironic, stupid pivot point in your life that could have taken you in an entirely different direction, that would have changed the course of history. If you COULD go back and do it differently, would you, not knowing what the outcome would be?

Outland Remake | Exit Ghost by Philip Roth

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.