I’ve spent the past week (as anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, probably to the point of you wanting to shake me to make me shut up, and NO I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE) wrapped up tight in Stephen King’s grip, reading 11/22/63. I finished last night, past the point when I was supposed to be sleeping, because I couldn’t let it go one more night without knowing what happened.
I’m not going to give you a review here – a review is forthcoming, but elsewhere, cue evil laughter and plotting Burns-hands – other than to say I loved it, it’s unlike anything of his I’ve read before, and I cried on at least five different occasions, two of which were ugly, noise-making weep-a-thons that would have been embarrassing had they not been done in places where no one could see me. Well, one was in my car in the parking lot of the Rite Aid? But probably no one peered into my car. I mean, PROBABLY no one did. If they did, sorry, Rite Aid shoppers. I wasn’t having a breakdown. I was there to buy cat food and then got reading and it got REALLY GOOD. Please forgive.
The plot of the book, in brief, for anyone who doesn’t know, is this: a schoolteacher in Maine travels back to 1958 through a “bubble” in the fabric of time to pull a Quantum Leap and right what once went wrong. Only on Quantum Leap, those things actually DID go wrong. Jake doesn’t know that what he wants to right wasn’t supposed to happen the way it does. He doesn’t have Ziggy and Al to help him, and he’s not changing a little moment in time like some woman leaving her abusive husband or something. What Jake wants to stop is the Kennedy assassination.
I’ll save my big, profound thoughts for a time yet undetermined, in a place other than this (Burns-hands, Burns-hands, muah-ha-ha) but of course, as you do, I started thinking, what would I change, if this was a real thing I could do?
And I came up with some things. I mean, first I came up with the one real thing? And that’s none of your business, because it’s sad and it’s private and it made me cry. But then I came up with SARCASTIC things. So I would obviously win time-travel. I mean, did you doubt that I would? Did you really? I’m disappointed in you. Maybe you have a fever. You should have some soup and go back to bed, I think.
A backyard in upstate New York. There are two children in the backyard, a ten-year-old girl with unfortunate glasses and a seven-year-old boy who has an evil look in his eye. There is a board on the ground, balanced on a triangular rock, like a see-saw. The girl is standing at the end of the board closest to the ground. The boy is standing at the other end.
Future me: Hey! Kids!
Prepubescent me: Um, stranger danger.
Little bro: What the hell.
Future me: I am here to stop the insanity.
Little bro: OK. What?
Future me: Hey, little bro. Let me guess. You JUST asked your sister to stand over there so you can test out this boss see-saw you invented, right? And you’re going to ask her to look really close at one end, then you’re going to step REALLY HARD on the high end, so the board flies up and smashes her in the face?
Little bro: Um. What? No. I would NEVER do THAT.
Future me: And! Little Amy! You’re actually STUPID enough to think that your brother ISN’T going to take this opportunity to use the simple laws of physics and your own naïveté to whale you in the face with a board.
Prepubescent me: Um…you look really familiar. Like one of my aunts, or something. But you have really bad hair.
Future me: I AM A VERY BUSY WOMAN AND DON’T HAVE TIME TO STYLE MY HAIR. In the future no one cares about hair.
Little bro: I bet that’s not true.
Future me: Wow, you’re totally rude, little bro.
Prepubescent me: So you’re saying I was about to get hit in the face with this board?
Future me: YES. Little bro here stomps on the board. The board flies up – PHYSICS, darlin’, you don’t do great in it in school, but I promise, that’s how a pivot point works – and it smacks you in the glasses, breaking them, and the cheekbone, cutting it. There’s blood, and there’s a scar. It’s kind of a thing.
Prepubescent me: That’s mean of him.
Future me: Don’t worry. He gets nicer once you both grow up.
Prepubescent me: You are the best, Future Amy! But seriously, why is our hair so messy?
Future me: You ask a lot of questions. Go read a book or something, kiddo.
A lovely young lady is watching a long-haired guy sing in a band. He is singing some Doors song. Sorry. Mangling. MANGLING some Doors song. She looks like someone hit her over the head with a love-hammer. Like, stars and birds wheeling over her head. IT IS HORRIFYING.
Future me: Hey. Goofy Matilda. Over here.
Lovestruck me: Um…yes? Sorry, I’m really trying to watch this.
Future me: Yeah. I know. That’s why I’m here.
Lovestruck me: I’m sorry?
Future me: Listen, it is NEVER a good idea to fall for a guy in a band.
Lovestruck me: Who are you? You look familiar. Do you want to borrow a brush? Your hair’s kind of a mess.
Future me: THIS IS HOW WE WEAR OUR HAIR IN 2011 WHEN WE’RE VERY FAMOUS BLOGGERS.
Lovestruck me: What’s a blogger?
Future me: That doesn’t matter. OK, see your honey up there? He’s about to dedicate a song to you.
Singer: This one’s for my lady. (Launches into the most horrendously sexual version of “Feel Like Makin’ Love” you’ve ever heard in your LIFE.)
Lovestruck me: Aw. That’s so nice! (swoons a little)
Future me: THAT IS RAPEY. You’re not even EIGHTEEN yet.
Lovestruck me: He LOVES me. I love HIM. We’re going to be in love FOREVER.
Future me: Nope. You break up after falling for a ginger boy two weeks into freshman year of college. Jim Morrison up there then proceeds make a total and complete Marky-Mark Wahlberg in Fear out of himself until you threaten HIM with a restraining order.
Lovestruck me: You don’t know what you’re talking about. WE ARE IN LOVE.
Future me: Also, avoid the ginger boy. Because he’s just heartbreak in a freckly, adorable little body. But mostly, NO MORE BAND BOYS. Also, theater boys are usually bad news, too. Mostly because you have the wrong naughty-parts for them, get me?
Lovestruck me: Um, no.
Future me: I kind of want to headdesk right now, kiddo.
Lovestruck me: It’s like you speak another language. Is that how they speak in the future?
Future me: Yep. The cool kids, anyway. LISTEN. Rules. No more band boys; no more theater boys. Stick to the nerds. The nerdier the better. OK? The smart ones who read a lot and like computers and video games. They’re going somewhere. I’m telling you.
Lovestruck me: Seriously, I have a brush in my bag. Do you want to borrow it?
Future me: I feel like I’m screaming into a brick wall of hormone-driven stupidity right now. I am not winning time travel at all, Lovestruck Me. Thanks a LOT.
A bored twenty-something is working at a video store. Her uniform consists of a white button-down tuxedo shirt, a red ball cap, black slacks, and a totally bitchin’ vest that smells like all the employees that have come before.
Employee me: Hi. How can I help you.
Future me: I’m going to give you a little quick advice, minimum-wage Sally, so listen up.
Employee me: Um, ok. Did you want to rent a video, or…
Future me: I’m you. Fifteen years from now. DON’T MENTION MY HAIR.
Employee me: I wasn’t…ok, I totally was. Did we just give up on a hairstyle?
Future me: YES IT TAKES TOO LONG WHATEVER. Listen. See that guy over there?
Employee me: What guy, the new guy? Yeah, so?
Future me: Start talking to him. NOW.
Employee me: Why? He’s just some guy.
Future me: Yeah, no. See, that “just some guy?” Your future best friend. Trust me on this. Every minute you spend NOT talking to him? You’re missing out on face-time with the most awesome person on the planet.
Employee me: I don’t even KNOW him.
Future me: I KNOW. That’s why I’m HERE. You waste like a MONTH because you’re weird and awkward about getting to know new people. Get over there and start talking. In five years, you move across the country and you don’t get to see him very often anymore, so take advantage now, please.
Employee me: I’m kind of finding it hard to trust you. With that hair and all. Like, you know you have a million flyaways, right? I think they have protein sprays or something that could fix that.
Future me: YOU ARE A JACKASS, DISAFFECTED YOUTH OF AMERICA. Go. Now. Time’s a-wastin’. You’ll thank me later. I promise.
(Awww, I know, I KNOW. Sometimes I get all sap-sap-sappy. I CAN’T HELP IT. IT SNEAKS UP ON ME. Psst…love you, W.)