Alternate Universes

May 24, 2009

I pass the bathroom door. Our soon-to-be four year old, Atticus, is seated naked on the toilet. His mother is next to him. Atticus is holding her iPhone, which is playing a YouTube video of Sesame Street, a technique for scaring off the constipation spirits.

Surely no one forecast such a scene more than a half-century ago when, at the same age, I needed to relax on the toilet. But what if I would have requested similar attention from my mother (or father), two people never inclined to assist in my bodily discharges post-potty training?

In a universe of infinite possibilities, it’s conceivable that they would have dragged to the bathroom the snowy black-and-white TV and watched with me something from the three available channels. Envisioning such a scene reminds me of the show that debuted several years later, The Twilight Zone with Rod Serling’s ominous voice narrating science fiction tales from alternative universes.

As odd as such attention would have seemed in my childhood, it seems equally natural for Atticus to receive it. What I don’t understand is how so much changed in such a short time and what the changes portend.