I took a nap yesterday, and had a dream. I almost never remember dreams, and this seemed an odd and amusing one to remember. I dreamt about Frank Sinatra.
I was walking down a street toward a 40-ish Sinatra. I didn’t know where I was, nor how I got there, but it was Frank, no doubt; I said, “Hello, Mr Sinatra.” I said, “I’m Barry, and I’m so pleased to meet you,” and I extended my hand. He looked puzzled as he took my hand, but then he smiled and said, “I’m pleased to meet you, too,” and he shook it.
Frank Capra came running out, yelling, and I knew I’d stumbled onto a film shoot. “And I’m honoured to meet you, as well, Mr Capra,” I said, but then I turned back to Sinatra, who was now asking what I was doing here.
I told them I was from 2009, and they looked at each other with a look that said they’d be calling the security folks over any second. “Here,” I said, “What year is it now?” 1958. “What month?” September.
What could I tell them? Sinatra has already made Pal Joey, and he was divorced from Ava Gardner. Should I tell him he’d make Ocean’s Eleven and The Manchurian Candidate? Should I warn him about the kidnapping of his son? No, that would be five years, still, and maybe I should stay away from things about his own career.
The easiest thing would be the presidential election, but that was still two years on. “John F. Kennedy will be elected president in 1960,” I should say. Of course, Sinatra himself was involved with that, wasn’t he? I’d have to say more. “His vice president will be Lyndon Johnson, senator from Texas, and Richard Nixon’s running mate will be U.N. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge. When Nixon loses, he’ll tell the press, ‘You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around any more.’ ”
I was on a roll, in my mind. “Kennedy will appoint his brother as Attorney General. Dean Rusk will be Secretary of State, and Robert McNamara will be Secretary of Defense. And John Junior will be born just after the election.”
I should tell him, I thought, about Fidel Castro coming to power... that was only a few months away. The Bay of Pigs invasion... he could stop that, maybe. The Cuban Missile Crisis. And by all means, don’t let Kennedy go to Dallas in November ’63!
But could he change anything? Or would telling him about this stuff in advance only make things worse? I started thinking about all the science fiction stories about attempts to change history.
In the end, all I could manage was, “The pope’s going to die soon, and John XXIII will replace him,” looking over my shoulder as the security guards escorted me away.