This post is in response to the Prompt  Pick Your Gadget – where the question is asked, “Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?”

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This one wasn’t even tough for me, because the possibilities of a time machine are endless and infinitely more rewarding.

The other two options? Here’s why they hold little interest for me…
Anywhere Door: So I guess it might be nice to walk through a door and instantly be on Martha’s Vineyard, or in front of a White Castle in New Jersey. But say I jettisoned myself to Paris – I still have no car, no hotel, and in my case, no money when I get there.

Invisibility Helmet: I find this notion freakishly voyeuristic. I fail to see the use of being invisible unless you have a knife wielding lunatic in your house. I mean, yeah, you can walk right into a Springsteen concert and stand in the front row, but isn’t being part of the crowd half the fun?

But with a time machine you can revisit the best parts of your life. If I could go back, I would…

Eat My Mom’s Cooking – I would love to sit at our gianormous kitchen table, with it’s funky blue boomerang linoleum, and inhale bowl after bowl of her soup, a pile of her pot roast, and a tub of her beefaroni. And then I’d hug her for 10 minutes straight and do the dishes for her while she drank a cup of Sanka in the living room.

Attend a Hody – This was an all night party in late September attended by every self-respecting Slovak in Northern New Jersey. It took place at Sokol Hall in Guttenberg, NJ and it was the fall highlight of my youth. It was a night filled with soda and chips and dogs with kraut and running in and out of couples doing polkas on the dance floor. Every year the band would play the Alley Cat, which was my favorite part of the night. And when the party broke up at 1 or 2 am, we would go to a diner and get pancakes.

Go Visiting With my Dad – Almost every Monday night I would go with my dad to the bank, and then visit one of my many Aunts, Uncles or cousins. I don’t know why I liked this so much. My night usually involved sitting at a kitchen table sipping tea with milk and sugar and eating delicious Slovak cookies or pastries. My Aunts always had some sort of baked goods on hand. My dad and them would mostly speak in Slovak, trading news from the homeland and discussing the family.

I’d eventually wander off looking at all the chachkies; My Aunt Steffie had a bunch of antique cars that I used to love playing with, and a Mr. Peanut statue that turned peanuts into peanut butter. And Aunt Margaret had a cuckoo-clock that not only had a little bird pop out of a door every 15 minutes, but also had dancers that would polka around a little platform on the hour.

Go to the Dalton Diner with John – There was a diner in the town next to us called The Golden Eagle, but somehow it got the nickname of The Dalton Diner. My best friend John and I would spend hours and hours there eating burgers and fries and drinking milk shakes. I think I ate a hundred or so Dalton Swiss burgers in my teens while John and I made fun of the very blonde hostess…I think we dubbed her Secretariat because she used to stride through the diner like a prize racehorse.

Spend a Week in my Old House – I’d need a week. I’d explore my backyard, make a fire in our fireplace, use the griddle on our ancient stove, and sleep in my old bedroom.

Other time destinations would include summer vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, trips to Great Adventure with John, and any weekend I spent at Seaside Heights.

That’s why going back is so perfect, because you can visit the things you loved as a kid, but you can still come home and hug your kids.

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