Time Travel Cocktail
I want to tell you a story. A story of time travel. A story that begins many years ago as any worthy tale must in order to evoke the nostalgia brought on by a distant memory…But I don’t want you to think there was a machine involved. And by no means do I want you to think the participant was inebriated.
See back before there was a pandemic, people were always on the move. They drove places they wanted to go, they flew to take vacations and they ate out at restaurants just because they could; the year was 2014.
And I was visiting family in Connecticut. Ever since I moved to the West Coast, I yearned for nothing more than a little bit of history. When you grow up in New England you are surrounded by old things all the time. Old buildings and factories, antique furniture and puritan towns with gazebos. And I was missing that; the residue of centuries past.
So I requested we go to dinner at the oldest place I knew. Where the food was wholesome and the venue was archaic by American standards: The Publick House, a Sturbridge establishment since 1771. With creaky planked floors, mahogany tables and a sense of atmosphere that can only be achieved with the weathering of years.
“One thing that time travel teaches you, is that time changes, people don’t.” -Rip Hunter
There was a sense of alignment building that evening, the family was in a good mood and candles sprinkled the tavern like romantic constellations. We were immediately led to the best table in the tavern, the table by the hearth.
We breathed in warm breaths of contentment and circled about the drink menu, using the fire to illuminate the text. What to drink, what to drink?
Oh look at the cocktail list.. what interesting names… I had to be a part of a drink with a name as intriguing as this; The Card Room Shuffle. Done.
See I have this knack for collecting drink names. We are all collectors by nature. Some people collect things like figurines, or books or even notes from friends and lovers. Then there are those that collect intangibles; experiences, memories, and quotes about life.
While there are so many exquisite things to collect in ones life, I choose to collect drink names and commit them to memory.
And this drink had a name that was pulling me from somewhere further: The Card Room Shuffle. Upon first sip, a sense of deja vu drapes over the room. All of a sudden this other life, the life the drink was named after becomes a contender for my attention.
“Is déjà vu actually the specter of false timelines that never happened but did, casting their shadows upon reality?” -Blake Crouch
A scene begins to play out in the internal projector of my mind.
Behind the hearth, a secret door, leading to the tavern library. Candles, scotch or maybe this exact cocktail for which it gets its name. A green leather reading chair in the corner, an illegal game of poker amongst a medley of guests, someone looks up and notices my entrance, but I am just a shadow.
Heart sinking, I realize I have stepped into something of consequence. Two people begin to argue at the poker table, I linger in the dark recesses of the hearth’s fire.
A girl slams down her drink while a lady in a long silk gown and an oversized mens blazer, slowly combs the chips across the table to her side. She sips her drink slowly, a short glass with red liquid and a cherry on top. She smirks; pleased with herself.
An hour glass on the table trickles its last few granulars of sand unto which a man standing to the side does a double clap and flips the hour glass over. All the participants get up and take a side step and sit in the seat to their left. The shuffle.
A gentleman gets up, he is wearing dark brown trousers with matching suspenders, he walks towards me and begins to close a door in front of my eyes into which I whither back to the moment; dinner with my family.
With drink in hand, I swirl The Card Room Shuffle, take a second sip and look up at my family; as dinner conversation resumes.
Did I just dive into the story of my drink?
Years pass and the incident is long forgotten. I continue to collect interesting drink names anytime there is a cocktail hour to attend. Things like: Tainted Love (a gin and beet juice concoction obtrusively decorated with dried beets) or Just in Thyme (another gin drink with lemoncello and thyme). But nothing ever brings a level of synchronicity and discovery that feels all consuming.
Then one night, it all changed while attending a 1920s murder mystery party and a bathtub gin and tonic in hand…
A vintage shop turned party venue hosts a slew of people dressed in 1920s attire. They have come to solve a murder! Up beat trumpet music is playing while guests check in and begin studying their characters.
Antique furniture is tucked in choice corners, tall ceilings and oriental rugs, mannequins in fur coats. Guests practicing the Mid-Atlantic accent to names like Charles and Mildred.
“Can we really convince ourselves of when we are?”
Everyone is buzzing around on a mission to bring their characters to life. With a gin and tonic in hand, I start meandering through the party. One sip in, it happens again. A moment where I could be in another time, in another city. But I am in a speakeasy, not the vintage shop.
I walk through the crowd and hear a detective questioning a witness, they don’t know anything and their relation to the suspect is slim.
The bartender in the back is polishing glass wear as guests take turns ordering drinks. I hear high pitched laughing as girls start congregating at the center to do The Charleston. The detective continues to make his rounds.
With the music, the laughing and the loud boasting of voices no one notices; a gentleman has fallen to the floor, by the cloak room. I run past a politician and his wife as they discuss the upcoming primary, and head to the cloak room to see if the man has fainted. I roll him over to find a pool of blood and a thrice stabbed chest.
Choked with overwhelming clarity, I scream DETECTIVE and then bump into a lady behind me forcing her to fall out of character and the scene of the event comes to an abrupt halt.
Rosy glasses have been removed. No one has been murdered, this man is playing dead. This is a vintage shop.
“When could I find myself next?”
THE TIME MACHINE
In the movie, Somewhere in Time, the main character is able to travel through time by willing it to happen. That if you are in the correct dress, in the correct environment and everything that surrounds you is of that time; you can travel TO that exact time. You travel through believing.
Is that what happened here? At the tavern? At the Murder Mystery Party?
Could the time in that synchronistic state be prolonged enough to satisfy the urge to time travel, truly? Can we really convince ourselves of when we are?
Is it about the cocktail? Or the ambiance?
Is it the love of old things? The level of empathy that extends past humans and into the walls and the mechanics that make up our matrix? A level of understanding begins to emerge…
The case to find yourself in another time, is to cloak all 5 senses in equal proportion consisting of the same time period. The music, the food, the people, the clothing and environment mixed with scent.
I think back to the two experiences.
It wasn’t purely deja vu and it wasn’t purely time travel.
This needs to be replicated again. There is so much to understand. Who knows what one could witness, what one could feel. When one could be.
I guess the first step will be to get a time travel cocktail…
I’ll have a, Night and Day in Chinatown.
Coming right up!