8 | OLAM | MARCH 27, 2015
F E AT U R E “I’m Dr. Peabody. I’ll be coordinating your time slip today.” BY REBECCA KLEMPNER
An Old-fashioned Girl
elig stopped at the filling station on the way to return his friend’s car. As he pulled up, he noticed a sign across the street: Time Clinic. The storefront buzzed with customers. He wondered aloud what a Time Clinic was. “That new place?” the guy at the next pump said. “They claim they’ve found some way to travel back in time.” “For real?” Zelig blurted out. The man shrugged. Zelig waved goodbye as he headed to Mendel’s. When he got there, he handed his friend the car keys. “How did the date go?” “Not well,” Zelig confessed. “Why don’t you come with me tomorrow? My rebbe’s visiting, and I was planning to go for a brocha.” Mendel had spoken enthusiastically about this rebbe for years. “Well, I’m not really chassidish…” “I know. But what have you got to lose?”
*** On Tuesday after work, Zelig passed the Time Clinic again. Reaching the next corner, he checked his watch. It wasn’t so late, was it? And it wasn’t like he had a wife and kids to get home to. Taking a deep breath, Zelig doubled
back and pushed through the front door of the Time Clinic. A smiling receptionist greeted him. “May I help you?” “Yes,” he said. “Can you give me some information about your services?” She indicated a plastic pamphlet holder with her forefinger. “Take a brochure. If you have any additional questions, I can have one of our technicians contact you later. Unfortunately, they are all occupied at the moment. As you can see, we’re quite busy today.” Indeed, the waiting room teemed with clients. “Thanks.” Zelig took a brochure and left. *** Zelig felt better as he headed to his first appointment the following day. After a warm handshake, he sat opposite his client. He’d freelanced for Mr. Langer’s company for years and he’d always liked the man’s no-nonsense style. His first words startled Zelig. “What have you got there?” A brochure.” It had fallen from the briefcase. Zelig slipped it across the table. “Aaahhh…” Mr. Langer said as he leafed through the pamphlet. “What appeals to you about this, this Time Clinic?” Zelig felt silly. “I was just thinking that I want a nice, old-fashioned girl. Maybe if I went back in time, I could find one?” He laughed nervously.
“A nice, old-fashioned girl,” Mr. Langer repeated, a contemplative look on his face. “Yes.” Zelig squirmed under the intense stare. The silence lengthened. “Try it.” “Really?” “What have you got to lose?” *** Later in the week, Zelig found himself standing in front of the Time Clinic’s receptionist. She bent her head over the intake forms, checking if he’d completed them correctly. “I see you’ve left the last question blank. Do you have a time period you’d like to visit in particular, and a place?” Zelig thought a moment. How far back would he have to go to find his old-fashioned girl? “About a hundred years ago. In Poland.” She scribbled onto the form. “Okay. It looks like everything’s in order, Mr. Shainblatt. Please sign here, here, and here.” She pointed out each box. Zelig wrote his name with a flourish, then handed the pen back to the receptionist. She smiled. “Please have a seat. You’ll be called shortly.” Pulling out a pocket-sized Michtav M’Eliyahu, Zelig lowered himself into an armchair with a combination of excite-
ment and trepidation. A lab-coated gentleman escorted a smiling old woman out the door and scanned the reception area. “Zee-lig Shane-blatt?” he called out. Zelig stood and followed the man into the treatment room. The technician indicated that he should sit in the padded chair. Zelig did so and put his feet on the footrest. With a deft flick of the wrist, the technician tilted him back. A bright light shined directly overhead. Another smiling, lab-coated figure appeared. “Hi,” he said, offering a hand to shake. “I’m Dr. Peabody. I’ll be coordinating your time slip today.” The first technician started an IV drip, while Dr. Peabody busied himself around Zelig’s head. “You’ve already been given an overview of our procedure, but I’ll just review. “Unlike in science fiction, we don’t use a time machine. Instead, we manipulate your own mind to take you into the past. We’ve already started to introduce the time solution into your IV.” Zelig watched a jade green fluid drip from a bag into the line. “After five minutes, we’ll begin cerebral stimulation through the helmet.” He indicated the metal cap in his hands. It appeared to be fitted with a series of rounded tines on the inside. Increasingly nervous, Zelig interrupted. “That’s when I’ll vanish?”