San Francisco, 1984: Back in Henrietta, Texas, the Edmonds Public Library was calm, quiet, and cool in the summer. The children’s section and the Science Fiction section had that same smell as a grade school, a scent of varnish and puppies.
I got to know those books very well. Books about secret codes, books about the Hardy Boys, and books about Rocket Ships. Those were favorites. Even today, checking the news online, whenever a new photograph appears — Jupiter, a comet, the Crab Nebula — it’s astounding, like deja vu of something never seen.
In college, I was complaining to Crazy Becky Jarvis one day, about my sorry love life. She tilted her head to one side.
“I bet you’d like Patty L.,” she said.
And I did.
A small woman, with that hair that moves all together, she wore a plaid skirt, a white blouse, and tall boots. In those days of beehive hairdos, she was a welcome relief. An infectious smile, mischievous nature, and a cozy attitude.
On a certain day, I was to pick her up from visiting her parents in Dallas. As it turned out, I was early, and, having nothing much to say to them — or perhaps, they having very little to say to me — they invited me to watch the television, where I saw Star Trek for the first time.
I no longer recall the plot, probably it was about a terrible monster.
We left, and drove the Morgan back to Denton with the top down, always fun, but I was thinking about the guys in the Rocket Ship. And now, we’ll leave Pretty Patty and move forward to San Francisco, many years after.
In San Francisco, Star Trek is still on television, but as it begins to wind down, they begin making movies. And one of these was playing on Van Ness, so Derek S. and I went.
This particular Star Trek movie, however, had them coming back in time to San Francisco, where we are watching the movie. With their space ship in high orbit, they have beamed down, and now these men from the future are walking around the Marina Green. Now they’re downtown. And now they are walking on Van Ness.
And now they are standing at the bus stop outside the theatre where Derek and I are watching them standing at the bus stop outside the theatre where we are watching them.
Yes, that’s right, these people from my past, who are from the future, at a later time in the future have come back to a time later than my past, which is in fact now, and are now standing just outside the theatre where we are watching them from inside the theatre.
The movie wasn’t great.
The mental meltdown was superb.
Does God make up these practical jokes? Or do they just happen?