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Almost Fiction: Time Machine Chair

By Sam Jones

On Thursday afternoon at 3:27 p.m. it occurred to me that 327, along with 350 and 427, are all notable numbers to Chevy lovers. 283 is also a good Chevy number but it can’t be reflected on a digital clock. I don’t know why that jumped into my mind but curled up in front of the TV, wrapped in Aunt Wanda’s afghan, after several cups of chamomile tea laced liberally with shots of bourbon, a number of strange notions had snuck up and gnawed on my neck.

I am not fighting a cold but if someone were to ask why I was sitting here all wrapped up in the afternoon, I’d say I was. No, I’m not sick. I’m hunkered down in my overstuffed leather chair thinking about where I want it to take me. It is my Time Machine. Relaxing quietly in it I can close my eyes and my Time Machine Chair will take me back to a college boxing match, or surfing at the beach with high school friends, or in the back seat of a Pontiac with old girlfriends, or on a long-ago motorcycle tour of the Deep South. Today, with the help of my TV and a DVD it has taken me back 150 years where I am with John Wayne in the best western movie ever made, The Searchers. Within the first five minutes I am completely lost in the picture and because I’ve seen it a dozen times I can recite the dialog with the sound off.

There has never been any argument that I was born in the wrong time period. During most of my reality I have kept sane by riding motorcycles, however, the independent life of 150 years ago always seemed to be a better fit. Considering the current plethora of Time Machine movies available I must not be the only one who thinks it would be a good idea to be living in another age. Adventure movies, knights in shining armor, pirates, books about Cyrano de Bergerac, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo take many of us back to places in history that have more clarity than the nebulous complications of today.

At the end of The Searchers, my cup of tea is cold. Casting off Aunt Wanda’s afghan I wander into the kitchen, put fire under the tea pot and wait for the whistle. When boiling, a half a mug of tea is balanced with an equal amount of Jim Beam. Back to my overstuffed chair, sitting with my afghan, well into my third or fourth or fifth shot of tea, my Time Machine Chair rewinds the seventh grade and my buddy Teddy comes to mind. Adventure stories about Kit Carson and Daniel Boone were my favorites. Teddy had a thing for African explorers and had on his person at all times a National Geographic magazine about explorers and native tribes. Because the native women were always bare chested it didn’t take much to figure out that Teddy was really interested in naked women and not the explorers.

You have to remember, there was no Playboy magazine. Our total sexual education came from gossip, urban legends, National Geographic and the ladies’ underwear section of the Sears catalog. And it wasn’t just Teddy. Whenever he brought out his magazines the baseball game would stop and every pre-pubescent boy would crowd around becoming interested in anthropology.

When it came to accumulating anatomical data in search of carnal truth Teddy was unafraid, a person who regardless of risk would never rely on myth. He was the inventor who first glued mirrors to the toes of his shoes allowing him to look up girl’s dresses. That got him punched in the nose twice. Thirteen-year-old girls don’t slap; they punch.

Somewhat emotionally stunted and being a perennial adolescent in order to continue his sexual instruction, when Teddy got his first car, a ’52 Chevy, he unscrewed all the inside molding around the windows and the glove box door sending them to his uncle who had a chrome shop. With the glove box door polished like a mirror he now claimed he could look up girls’ dresses and never get caught. “Why did you chrome the window molding?” we asked. “It is all part of a master plan. With lots of chrome the glove box door is part of the motif, it doesn’t stand out, it is just one of the many shiny pieces.” A great thinker, Teddy. Not long ago I got an announcement to attend his retirement party from the CIA.

National Geographic was not our only magazine. As young teenagers we enjoyed Popular Science and Mechanix Illustrated. Every month they had dozens of projects all well within the potentiality of a 12-year-old boy. There were “how to” articles on building a pipe-bomb cannon, birdhouses, a sand blaster, a picnic bench to add to last year’s barbecue project and blueprints for building a teardrop trailer.

On this bourbon-soaked afternoon my Time Machine Chair installed me into a western movie, brought back bare-breasted African native women, recalled Popular Science and Mechanix Illustrated and reminded me of Teddy and his mirrored shoes and chrome glove box. It all made me wonder about how poorly I fit into the era in which I now found myself.

Sometimes the Time Machine’s periods become distorted and confused. Without difficulty I saw myself with John Wayne, riding horseback, leading a pack mule into the wilderness and then the apparition morphed imprecisely and was transposed into riding a Harley and pulling a teardrop trailer.

Accepting that view I could camp in National Parks and see the sights or I could hit all the legal brothels in Nevada or I could date overweight blond Denny’s waitresses in every state of the Union or I could go up into the mountains and live in a cave with a grizzly bear. Of course, doing any of those things I’d need a vintage copy of National Geographic and a Sears catalog. With enough chamomile tea and bourbon you can see yourself at any place, doing anything, at any time.

By the way… by current political correctness standards isn’t it racist to show only naked photos of the breasts of “women of color” and not show the breasts of white women playing tennis? I may have to tear off a terse note to the ACLU demanding they take legal action insuring that for every National Geographic’s article featuring African topless tribal ladies they publish equally nude pictorials of country club matrons playing golf.

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