Museum of Transport and Technology

Picture Past Imperfect

My computer was cluttered. I started deleting useless files from my hard drive.

“What are you doing?” Jacquie screamed.

“Getting rid of junk.”

“Those are our wedding photos.”


Jacquie explained why I shouldn’t delete photographs of our wedding.

“Oh, I get it now,” I said, three hours later. “It was our wedding. That makes these photos special.”


“Pictures help us remember. We had a really musical wedding, didn’t we?”


“We’re a musical couple, then?”

“I don’t know.”

“Even though we’re tone-deaf and when we dance, people try to keep us from biting off our tongues because they think we’re having seizures, right?”

“Is there a point to all this?”

“No. Just that these photographs are bringing back a lot of fond memories.”

I remembered our wedding, how we started with Bjork’s It’s Oh So Quiet for our processional and how we danced to Bob Dylan’s The Man in Me to mark our debut as a married couple. But most of all I remembered this:

Singing and strumming my rendition of Fats Waller's Ain't Misbehavin', the perfect serenade for a bride. And not a bad choice for a caterer's assistant, too. Think Leon Redbone by way of Lord Humungus with a deviated septum.

“It’s too bad about that picture,” Jacquie said. “If only the caterer’s assistant wasn’t right there in the middle.”

“I know. He doesn’t seem moved by my serenade. And I was really trying to woo him. You know, in lieu of a tip.”

"I am totally not impressed by your version of Ain't Misbehavin'. Your voice makes me wish I'd been born with a cochlear defect and your guitar-playing sounds like the rusty hydraulic system of an ancient sanitation truck being pleasured by a young, healthy Tyrannosaurus Rex. Would you care to sample a canape?"

“The fact that he’s in this picture at all is the problem,” Jacquie said.

“I’m pretty sure he’s sneering at me there.”

“Whatever.  If there was only a way to remove that guy from the picture altogether.”

I hated to disappoint Jacquie, but facts are facts.

“We just don’t have the technology yet to edit digital photographs on our MacBooks,” I said. “I’m afraid the only way to ‘photoshop’ the caterer’s assistant out, if you will, would be to travel back in time and ask him to step out of the frame.”

Conveniently enough––and in a plot-twist oddly similar to the 1979 sci-fi flick Time After Time starring Malcolm McDowell, which I’d seen recently (by complete coincidence)––there just happened to be a functioning time-machine at Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology, tucked between a 1920s John Deere tractor and the Men’s room.

I went down to MOTAT and hid until after closing. Then I put on a costume so that nobody in the past would recognize me and thus potentially jeopardize the space-time continuum that has only recently started to grow on me. Then I got into the time machine and headed back to what I thought would be September 29, 2007.

Unfortunately, I landed in Brooklyn in the year 2001 and in a strange turn of events, I ended up with this photograph:

"Oh, how cute. We don't have squirrels in New Zealand. I think I'll keep this one and name him Sylvia Plath. Of course, he'll have to be de-sexed as soon as possible. Let's go for a walk in Central Park, Sylvia Plath, so everyone can see your cute little bow."

I was surprisingly content with this new time-line and I heartily looked forward to my de-sexing operation until I got to the vet and kind of freaked out. Suffice it to say, I don’t like needles. Anyway, I bit the vet, ran away and somehow ended up in MOTAT again.

My second trip in time proved just as futile, despite managing to sneak into the wedding unseen and getting close enough to the assistant to have this moronic exchange:

Me: Hey, you. Caterer guy. Over here. Can I have a canape? Only kidding. I need a word with you.

Assistant: Oh, no. Not another talking rat.

Me: I’m not a rat, you idiot. I’m a human being wearing a Cowardly Lion costume. You know: from The Wizard of Oz.

Assistant: Then why are you wearing a red bow in your mane?

Me: By that token, why would a rat be wearing a red bow?

Assistant: Because yesterday was Dress-Down Friday at the vivisection lab and you haven’t had time to change? How should I know. You’re the rat.

Me: Look. Could you just sit someplace else for a minute?

Assistant: What’s in it for me?”

Me: I’ll tell you who wins the 2010 World Cup.

Assistant: They have octopuses for that. Wait, shut up. I want to hear that guy sing…Oh, man. He stinks…Hey wait a second. He looks just like you.”

Just at that moment, I turned around and ended up with this photograph:

"Oh my God, a feral rat...and another one standing on the table to his left. Everybody run."

Well, I found success in my third and last attempt by taking a bit of a gamble and traveling all the way back to the early 1900s when the building where we got married was still under construction. There I came across a brick mason, happily mumbling to himself as he worked.

Me: Could you make this part of the wall more narrow so that in 100 years time, a caterer’s assistant won’t have any room to sit there during a wedding ceremony?

Brick Mason: I’ve never in my life said “no” when a Leprechaun assigned me a task no matter what the cost to my health, my job or my relationship to my wife or children, and I don’t plan to start saying “no” now. Leprechaun, it would be my absolute pleasure.

And as I said, the third time was the charm because after this foray into history, I finally came up with this:


"Yuck. When will he stop singing already?"