(An 80-year-old man enters the offices of Nostalgia Trips, LLC, and is brought to the desk of the Chief Time Master)
Customer: (Sits) You know the deal: everything is horrible now, I miss the good old days, I’ll pay whatever you ask to make my life perfect again.
Chief Time Master: Our rates are quite reasonable, so no need to deplete that 401k yet, my good sir. Now, we reviewed your profile extensively and I selected several time periods in your life that I believe you would agree are as close to perfection as you envision them. If you would put on the virtual reality goggles that are placed before you, we can go through the selections and either choose one now or go back and review your profile for different options – there’s absolutely no pressure whatsoever to make a decision today.
Customer: Darn tootin’. (He dons the goggles)
Chief Time Master: Now, the first time period on display is from when you were 5 years old – a favorite time for most of our clients, I might add.
Customer: I bet! (He becomes immersed in the experience of watching his 5-year-old self frolick with his chums on a bright summer’s day)
Chief Time Master: (Appears behind Customer) Enjoying yourself?
Customer: Ah! How’d you get in here?!
Chief Time Master: I am a master of space and time.
Customer: Oh, right. (He watches the frolicking continue until his younger self starts a fight with the other boys) Yeah, I was a bit of a scamp then. Can I see another day from that summer?
Chief Time Master: This happened every day that summer. Except, of course, on the days when no one wanted to play with you anymore and you picked fights with your sister instead.
Customer: Hm. Maybe I could see another option?
Chief Time Master: Very well.
(The view changes to Customer’s 19-year-old self, strolling the grounds of an idyllic college campus)
Customer: My alma mater! You’re right – these were the best years of my life! (He watches as his college-age self enters a frat house, drinks to excess at a party, gets arrested for underage drinking and destruction of college property, and is expelled) Wait, what about the other good years I had there?
Chief Time Master: When you slept through lectures and nearly failed every course?
Customer: Yeah, but the parties were awesome! At least I think they were – I can’t really remember any of them, and I don’t think that’s due to age. Can I see another option?
Chief Time Master: Certainly.
(The view changes to Customer’s 33-year-old self holding his newborn son in a hospital)
Customer: Oh yes, this is it. Nothing says perfection like holding your child in your arms, let me tell you.
Chief Time Master: Are you certain of your choice? If you do select this period, then you’ll be reliving everything: the feedings and changings several times every night, the croup, the neverending bills, the near-divorce, the increased stress from home and work mutually strengthening each other, the –
Customer: All right! Living through it once was enough, I remember now. Let’s see another one.
Chief Time Master: Of course.
(The view changes to Customer as a 65-year-old new retiree)
Customer: I know I had a great feeling of relief at this point in my life.
Chief Time Master: Yes, all was well until you had your mini-stroke three days later and your first wife passed away soon after that.
Customer: Oh. It happened around then? I guess I blocked everything else out right after this day.
Chief Time Master: Indeed. Want to see another one?
Customer: …OK. (The view changes to 80-year-old Customer with his current wife, his children, and his grandchildren) Hey, this is me now! Now stinks!
Chief Time Master: Does it?
Customer: Well, the kids and all that are fine, but the world around me is garbage!
Chief Time Master: Be that as it may: I showed you some of the highlights of your life and they also were surrounded by a lot of garbage – most of it your own doing.
Customer: Yeah, but, you know, back in my day –
Chief Time Master: Not to interrupt, sir, but there never was a perfect day; there were only moments that you remember with great fondness. Now, have you made your choice?
Customer: Yes, I have. (He removes the goggles and goes home to see his family)
Chief Time Master: (Back at his desk, he sprays sanitizer on the goggles and calls his secretary’s phone) Please bill that last client under the “No Place Like Home” package. Oh, and please add to the agenda for the next Board meeting the proposal to discontinue the other packages – no one ever uses them.