Dear Susan Collins,
Well, Roe got overturned. You claim you’ve been blindsided, and while I certainly don’t believe that, many actually do. Don’t worry! I’m not writing to lambaste you for lying. I’m actually seeking advice.
During your 45-minute floor speech endorsing Kavanaugh back in 2018, you referenced the Constitution more than 10 times and it got me thinking. Whether it’s abortion or voting or policing or whatever, there’s a constitutional justification anytime folks are about to lose their rights. But what if the Constitution were written with a little more insight into the future?
I mean, it’s not like you could go meet up with Ben, George, Alex and them, right? You couldn’t just interrupt the crafting of the founding documents to explain unintended consequences … but what if you could? What if there was a way to alert the Founding Fathers of the eventual harm their words would cause?
Well, it turns out, you can. And that’s exactly what I did.
It wasn’t easy. This undertaking required a pooling of resources previously unprecedented in the history of modern engineering. And not just economic resources, either. I’m talking about the convening of our greatest living minds. I’m talking about scientists, mathematicians, engineers and strategists. Also a couple automotive designers, because if we were gonna make something this incredible, it had to look dope as hell. Admittedly, that was a choice made out of ego that I would soon briefly regret, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Anyway, yes, I’m talking about a time machine.
I guess a lot of people had similar ideas, because it came together pretty quickly. Within a couple of days, the equipment was ready. I was trained for perhaps the most patriotic mission in the history of this country.
The plan was simple: Arriving in a Virginia field on Sept. 14, 1787, I would have exactly three days to make the necessary changes. After quickly hiding my dope-ass time machine under brush or in the closest barn, I would go directly to Madison’s Montpelier, where I would find The Father of the Constitution, James Madison. Waiting until nightfall, I would enter his home as he worked diligently by candlelight. Using contemporary theatrical lighting and my own extensive knowledge of Colonial America, I would convince Madison I was an omniscient spirit purposed to assist his writing and/or haunt his any refusal. After aiding authorship of our federative charter, I would attend the signing, get back to my dope-ass time machine and return to the present day, never mentioning my mission to another living soul.
That was the idea, anyway. Unfortunately, time travel is unpredictable.
It might’ve been a flawed equation or simply a crossed wire. Hell, maybe I just typed it in wrong, but whatever it was, the plan was now null and void. As the sparks diminished and the smoke cleared I discovered that I was not in a Virginia field on Sept. 14, 1787. Instead, I found myself surrounded by delegates in the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House on Sept. 17, 1787, just moments before the Constitution would be signed!
That’s when I realized that while a time machine designed to be a cross between a Delorean and Tim Burton’s Batmobile looks dope as hell, it could possibly be more than a little confusing for these colonial horse-and-buggy types. My cockpit door slid back and I stood up in a room of stunned and silent horror. The crowd of politicians stood around me staring, slack-jawed.
My mind raced, searching for any explanation they’d understand. Honesty wasn’t an option. I couldn’t even explain electricity, let alone time travel. I decided the best thing would be to announce myself as a wizard, but before I got a word out it became clear that there was something else I hadn’t accounted for.
In unison, all 55 delegates pointed at me and shouted, “It’s a nigger!”
Then they swarmed me, but to no real effect. All of them were some combination of old, small and weak. Just swinging my arm into them sent delegates hurtling to the floor 10 at a time, powdered wigs flying into the air.
Washington pretended to get hit, dramatically moaning, slowly making his way to the ground, eventually feigning unconsciousness. Madison and Franklin fought each other for dibs. Jefferson ran, screeching, “I was never here!” but not before I grabbed him by his shirt and slapped him back and forth across his face for about 15 minutes.
I got back into the Batlorean feeling pretty down. I had planned on never telling anyone about this mission, and now it feels like people need to know. But how could I possibly get anyone to believe something as completely outrageous and literally impossible as what I’ve just written? And that’s when I thought of asking you.
Any and all advice welcome!
Yours in time,
Samuel James is an internationally renowned bluesman and storyteller. He is also a contributor to the recently released How to Tell a Story: The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling, from The Moth. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.