If I could somehow get my hands on a new time machine, that comes in two models, one for the past and one for the future, and I were forced to choose only one, I should absolutely have to pick the one that visits earlier times. For as far back as I can remember I’ve always been quite smitten with the past. Each individual seems to have some kind of excessive interest in either the past or future, as far as I can tell. Maybe it’s a part of mankind’s curse, to want to retreat to some supposed Garden of Eden of yore, or to some purported eschatological Heaven on earth in the future. Neither of these viewpoints is the least bit legitimate. Having always read very many biographies over the years, I have become insatiably curious about what it must have been like to have been alive during the days of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates, Medieval times and the Renaissance, or Jane Austen’s Regency period in England. Of course, I’ve always been so notoriously curious about the first decade of my own lifetime, the 1960’s. Knowing me I should get quite a kick out of being able to meet all the key figures or that era, especially the Beatles, during their prime. One of my favorite movies of recent years is Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris”. In it the protagonist gets to visit both the Jazz Age and La Belle Epoque, and to meet key figures from each era. That would be perfect for me. One thing I’ve noticed about this kind of thing is that virtually no one ever seems to want to go back to a bygone era just to see what the past in general was like. Everyone wants it to be quite a profoundly significant experience, during which he can either meet famous people or live through distinctive milestones. Perhaps someday I shall meet Doug Phillips and Tony Newman from “The Time Tunnel” and they could give me some tips about what to expect.
Of course if I were ever to have the absolutely ultimate party, I should have to invite Beatles John Winston Lennon and James Paul McCartney to represent my favorite band. It would be only right to make them sit next to each other. Their combined intelligence and creativity as well as wit, humor and imagination would be bound inevitably to provide one and all with quite a fine time. If I allow them to sit right next to Lewis Carroll, that would really make for such an interesting collection of insights. Everyone knows how intensely significant an influence Carroll always was on the 1960’s musical world. The threesome could take us on all sorts of misadventures throughout both Pepperland and Wonderland. Woody Allen would be quite an exceptionally interesting guest too. He and I are both neurotic bespectacled native New Yorkers. We also share an interest in dwelling upon mankind’s much bigger, more significant questions about the ultimate meaning of life and death. We most certainly don’t have any of the same answers, though, unfortunately. Perhaps I should be more comfortable in the company of the typical character Allen played in his movies than with the real Allen. Each of the characters he played is quite a perpetually befuddled eternal square stranded in a world that’s utterly over his head. There’s a side of me that’s very much like that. An accomplished jazz clarinetist, he, along with Lennon and McCartney, could provide quite a show. In order to ensure that there will be women in attendance I could invite Emily Dickinson, Jane Austen and Flannery O’Connor. Austen could give our festivities a bit of a sense of propriety and a dose of what life was like during England’s Regency period. She was known for her having been supposedly quite stuffy but I’ll bet she could really cut a rug. The Misses Dickinson and O’Connor, by explaining to us all exactly what was going on in their perpetually lopsided literary works, could give us all sorts of insights into human nature. Dickinson was quite the dysfunctional recluse, and O’Connor a strict orthodox Catholic, but I should assume each of them could swing from the occasional chandelier or two every once in a while too. The last name on my guest list would be Robert F. Kennedy, brother of the thirty fifth president. R.F.K. has the distinction of being the most interesting of all the famous people I’ve met in person. I met him at his last St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a few months before he died. I was only in the third grade then. Kennedy also was quite charming, witty, intelligent and articulate. He could explain just exactly what it is about the Kennedy mystique that has always kept people so enraptured throughout the course of the past few generations. A consummate politician and statesman, he could also be an effective moderator among the others.
To my chagrin I haven’t always been very confident. I can remember always having been quite a shy kid, especially with new experiences and in the company of strangers. That problem has remained with me, at least slightly, throughout my entire lifetime. I have no way of knowing, with any certitude, whether it technically qualifies as impostor syndrome but it has been known to lead to quite unfortunate consequences. Over the course of my lifetime I’ve never been conventionally popular. After a while though, I arrived at the conclusion that I seem to be a sort of underground cult popular, with an offbeat appeal somewhat similar to that of the kind of bands and movies whose fans hang around in weird head shops. Once I figured that out I stopped letting that kind of insecurity bother me. During my late adolescence, right around the time I graduated from high school, I first began to succumb to the simply irresistible appeal of the demon coffee. I even presumed to drink it black with caffeine. I have no idea whether the black coffee started all my troubles or whether it may have provoked my already extant troubles into even further flights of frenzy but I started getting anxiety attacks, migraines and a sick stomach. Eventually I started decreasing my coffee intake and my troubles abated. Since I honestly can’t say I specifically expect the worst possible consequences of each thing I do I can’t explain all my anxiety. Especially during my young adulthood I was prone toward being overwhelmingly frustrated before having to go on any kind of significant trip, especially when I was forced to fly someplace. I’ve never minded, and I’ve always enjoyed, specifically being on a plane but I used to have a lot of trouble with anxiety on the morning of a flight, before I boarded the plane. I still have trouble, to a lesser degree, with anxiety before any long trip. I assume that most of my current and recent anxiety, that is only slight, can be attributed to a kind of nervous energy and restlessness. As an adult I’ve always been compulsively punctual. I seem to have a lot of trouble, when I have either to go someplace or to do something, merely getting ready for it, and then waiting for a significant length of time until it’s time for it to happen. None of my insecurity seems to come from a lack of confidence in my intelligence or competence, or from the expectation that someone will deliberately try to thwart my attempts to get things done. It all simply appears to be the result of some kind of an unresolved tendency to feel inordinately uncomfortable under pressure. Hep Larry always knows that there isn’t any reason for things to go wrong. Real Larry, however, always tends to cringe with frustration even when it’s not entirely necessary. I’ve always seen myself as a combination of Charlie Brown and the kind of character Woody Allen has typically played in his movies. Like Charlie Brown, who is constantly frustrated in his attempt to win the heart of the little red haired girl, I always seem to have lots of trouble dealing with life’s entirely typical problems . Like Woody Allen’s movie persona, I’m a bespectacled intellectually inclined neurotic New Yorker stuck in one frustrating misadventure right after the other.
Mary Anne’s and Steve’s friends, Gary and Jo Anne, threw a really nice party on New Year’s Eve. We were all supposed to go but Mary Anne got too sick so only Steve and I went. They only live a few houses away so we walked. Usually I’m quite happy to enjoy a really nice quiet New Year’s Eve at home without bothering to do any celebrating to mark the occasion. Occasionally I’ve been known to attend a party thrown by either cousins or neighbors. As everyone knows I’ve always been quite notoriously bad with meeting new people and in crowds. I tend to feel uncomfortable in the company of anyone I don’t know and I’m also a bit claustrophobic. That’s not even counting the fact that I’ve never been fond of staying up late at night. All worked out quite especially well though. The people at the party were quite polite and friendly. They were mostly married couples with their kids. It’s a good thing I managed to get along so well because it appears I shall have to be spending a reasonably significant amount of time socializing with them from now on. A top contender for the most interesting character at the party was a really big guy named Kirk. Kirk has been a less than significantly famous actor ever since the 1960’s. He spent the night telling us stories about his adventures with Woody Allen, Tennessee Williams and Richie Havens. When the conversation turned to movies, something came up about John Huston’s movies. I reminded him that Huston had made the movie version of Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” in the late 1970’s . Each of us was quite taken aback that someone else could possibly be so familiar with O’Connor’s works. On New Year’s Day I made sure I got up in time to go to 9:00 a.m. Mass at St. Mary of the Isle on Park Avenue, because it’s the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God. Thus began my new year. I ‘ve been forced to accept one change right after the other.