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by Rose Madeline Mula

More proof that truth is stranger than fiction:

Physicist Ronald Mallett of the University of Connecticut is actually working on building a time machine and hopes to have an experimental mockup by fall of this year. No, he's not a crackpot, says he. His studies are solidly based on Einstein's theory of relativity and not on the delusional imaginations of Hollywood script writers or science-fiction authors.

As for me, all I know about time travel I learned from Back to the Future, which was fun and fanciful, and Kate & Leopold, which I seriously worried would give some nut the idea that he or she could simply jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and be catapulted into another era.

Can you imagine the implications if Mallett is successful—especially if time travel eventually becomes as accessible as the cross-town bus?

A criminal could flee to another century just before the SWAT team arrives—as could a faithless lover in danger of being found outa kid with a bad report card, afraid to go homea deadbeat dada mom who can't face one more sink full of dirty dishesit would give "getting away from it all" and "escapism" whole new meanings.

It certainly makes you wonder. If you could pick any moment in time—past or future—which century would you choose?

I'd have to know more than just when. I would also want to know what my circumstances would be. For example, it might be fun to experience a fashionable soiree in gracious 19th century London—provided I was either the lady of the manor or a well-heeled, noble guest. But with my luck, I'd launch myself to the scene only to find myself in the scullery in midsummer, over a flaming open hearth, roasting suckling pigs for the swells upstairs. Then I could look forward to a morning of mucking out the baronial stables and obeying every other whim of the dictatorial master of the castle. My reward? A few shillings and the promise of even more difficult tasks each day. Come to think of it, that sounds like my first secretarial job.

Or I could book a time travel trip back to the golden era of luxurious Atlantic crossings on a posh luxury liner, only to see the name Titanic looming down at me as I boarded.

Maybe the future would be a safer bet. After all, we would be assured of not only the technological advantages we enjoy today, but even more amazing wonders that would astound even Buck Rogers. But how would we choose a date? Again, if my luck runs true to form, I'd select March 16, 2880—the day that the asteroid 1950 DA may very possibly strike Earth.

I wish you luck with your studies Professor Mallett; but as far as I'm concerned, I think I'll confine my travels to other continents and not other centuries. At least I know what I'm dealing with now.

And what about Kate who followed Leopold back to 1876? How long do you think it would take before she'd be hitching a ride back to the 21st century? I'm sure I would soon decide that it would be easier to live without handsome Leopold than without corset-free dressing, automobiles, refrigerators, air conditioning, microwave ovens-and, especially, indoor plumbing. A chamber pot under the bed would really kill the romance.

But maybe that's just me.

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.


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