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3 A.M. Magazine

Lunch with my Evil Future Self


Charles Anders

Copyright © 1999
All Rights Reserved


He's a lot suaver than I am as well as more evil. You can tell by the way he tilts the sugar spoon slightly so that the sugar slides into a perfect parabola before he turns his wrist and the sugar cascades into his tea cup.

Ideally I would like to become as suave as he is without becoming as evil. Which is one of the reasons I agreed to have lunch with my future self. As a down payment, I practice getting a spoonful of sugar in exactly the way he does it. A few grains end up on the tablecloth.

"You're mocking me," he snarls. A really nice snarl too, one that will probably take decades in front of the mirror to perfect.

"What gives you that impression?"

I give him my wry-ironic-yet-somehow-naively-innocent look, which is as carefully practiced as his snarl. It gives me a bit of a jolt to realize that my mannerisms are as fake as my future self's, but less cool.

He looks gray-haired and distinguished in a velvet cloak embroidered with riffs on satanic imagery, and a pleated dark blue chemise with diamond buttons. I sport long hair, a Nirvana T-shirt and jeans. We're eating at a fancy downtown hotel, which I could not normally even get into, much less afford. I glance up at wedding cake ceilings, then in a downward arc to the plush walls and heavy pink drapes.

Gaggles of debutantes and Friends Of the Yadda Yadda Museum stare at us. They probably think this dude's my father, when it's more like the other way around. Actually, having lunch with my dad would be less weird.

"Terrible service here," I venture, glancing around. In fact the service is nonexistent, as if the waiters are hoping we'll leave without eating.

"I know. It's almost as bad as the snotty waiters in Paris. Of course I hadn't been to Paris yet, had I? But you'll go soon enough." The swapping pronouns were driving me nuts.

"I got so annoyed with Paris I nerve-gassed the place. It will be your 50th. birthday present to yourself, ridding the world of a snottiness infestation, not to mention a source of annoying art films." Before I could respond to this, my future self clapped his hands in a staccato pattern over his head as if he were doing the Lambada in his seat. A waiter resigned himself to coming over.

"You see, killing is easy, after a while." My 50-something incarnation leaned across the table and gazed at me. "Especially if you're well paid for it, as I am most of the time."

I wished I could still pretend this guy wasn't who I might become. He'd proved it to me a dozen ways, including that dogbite scar on his/my butt (he showed me in the men's room), memories only I had, and various bits of future technology, including the temporal displacement whatsit he'd used to descend upon me.

The leer when he had found me in Forbidden Planet -- "still skulking into the adult comics section, eh Todd?" -- had set the tone for our entire day together. What I couldn't get was why he was hanging out with me.

"Nah, man, killing's too much of an effort," I said, exaggerating my own draggy voice. "Most days I need a reason to get out of bed. I can't even begin to imagine a reason enough to kill someone."

The waiter arrived. My evil future self ordered first. "I wish to cause the deaths of as many innocent animals as possible," he told the waiter slowly. "Slaughter geese to make a small square of pate for me. After that, kindly slit a chicken's throat and turn it into soup. Finally, an agonizing factory farm death for my veal cutlet, if you please."

He had this way of emphasizing words like "slaughter," "slit" and "agonizing" so that they echoed through the dining room and even into the lobby. I ordered a salad quietly.

"Anyway, you were saying. Reason enough to get out of bed. Reason enough to commit mass murder." He was like a professor on a roll. "Which only shows what a narrow slice of the human experience you've had in your coddled little life."

"So how did I become so bad?" I asked after a long silence.

"By stages." He sipped for five minutes and I thought he had told me all he wanted to.

"If you are lucky enough to become me, then a major turning point is when you go to prison. At first it may seem like the end, but that's where you get your rep. You become the man who killed the man who killed the president. Not to mention the man who raped the man who raped the first lady."

For the umpteenth time I asked him to what I owed the honor of him buying me lunch. This time he answered.

"It's one of the things about getting older that you cannot possibly anticipate. Everybody -- except maybe Mick Jagger -- wastes time at some point in their dotage sitting around and thinking: if only I hadn't been such a dork when I was younger. I killed him, by the way."

"So you want to make me less dorky?" Then I caught his last statement. "Killed who? Mick Jagger?"

"In the nursing home. With his own guitar string."

"You -- I make me sick. But I was saying wouldn't making me less dorky interfere with your own development? I mean, you said I should treat you with respect because you're a product of my own evolution as a person, but aren't you messing up that same evolution by showing up here?"

"Ah, so he has a brain after all." My evil future self finished his pate. I still hadn't gotten my salad. "But you see, I don't give a shit what happens to you. The time line that created me has already happened, from my standpoint. If you go off and create a new time line, it won't bother me in the least. Be good. Be even worse than me. See if I care."

"So if you don't give a shit what happens to me, why are you here?"

"God, I can't believe I was this dense. Because you're a dork. And I cannot countenance the fact that you will likely spend the next 25 years of your life being a dork before you wise up -- and that's only if you turn out as well as I did. I probably can't change that. But at least I can mitigate the the awful night you're about to have."

"Tell me about it."

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