GURGLING water underneath the shower nozzle, I manage a bar of soap to my neck and, with steam crimping from my flesh-—attempt my best William Shatner impersonation. It’s something I’ve been working to perfect all afternoon.
“Space-time…time and space…..”
Another helping of water drizzles from the nozzle. Straight into my mouth. It swishes around between my tongue and teeth and then, finally clearing my throat, I hold the bar of soap as a microphone to my lips and carefully pronounce: “Sulu…. Space-time…time and space…..”
There’s a mirror around here somewhere. Blame it on the steam. The towel’s shrunken again. The pizza probably has nothing to do with it. I wrap the towel around my waist and, with a brush in my hair, speak into the foggy reflection anyhow. “I’ve talked to…. Michio Kaku and David Suzuki… .and Dr. Stephen Hawking.” This is the part where I interview the brush. “So I ask these very important men…. who are working in the field…. I ask them, what is space-time…. time and space…. and they say, ‘Well, the gravitational force takes these photons of a light and bends the form of the light…. so you’ve got space and you’ve got time.’”
All of this is spoken, of course, in my best William Shatner voice, which I’ve been working to perfect all day. Especially in the shower. A razor also makes for a good microphone, I have found.
“So I ask them, if that photon…. if that photon of light…. if that furthest galaxy takes 13.5 billion years…..” I take a moment to plow over the stubble on my cheeks, using my shaving razor of course, pausing only to rinse the blade in the sink. “’13.8 billion,’ one of them corrects me. So I ask him….’13.8 billion years… to reach my eyes, isn’t that time?’ And he says, ‘Yes, but there’s space-time in the time of the time-space in the space of the time….’” Having used my fingers to clear a circular window of fog from the mirror, I then tell myself: “It’s a concept that I just can’t get my head through….”
One of my two year-old twin sons peeks into the bathroom.
“Time and space…..space and time,” I tell him, continuing my best William Shatner impersonation.
He seems unimpressed by it all—and leaves.
“Spock! Spock!” I call after him.
I fumble with my jeans, having only pulled one leg through, succeeding only so much in not taking a dive into the tub. Once I’m thoroughly tangled in my shirt, realizing now the buttons had yet to be removed before attempting to pull it over my head—its on backwards anyhow, I add: “So the guy said…. One of the gentlemen said, ‘Well, there are three dimensions of space… length as well as width, and then you add the concept of time with the length and the width, and if something happens within that space you got time. Time and space…. space and time…..’”
“That’s the fourth-dimension!” Nobody is in the room to hear William Shatner’s stunning realization regarding the number of dimension involved. “You got time and then you have length and breadth, so what’s the…. fifth dimension?”
My wife enters our bedroom, and so I—I mean, Williams Shatner explains to her: “There’s eleven and seventeen and twenty-six other, uh, uh, uh…. space dimensions. So I say to the man, ‘Just give me one other dimension.’ And his answer is—he says, ‘We can’t conceive of any!’”
“Conceive of taking out the trash,” she says.
Plastic bag slung over my shoulder, I try not to let the door hit my butt on the way out. “When you get up in the morning, what do you do?” I like the way ‘What do you do’ sounds on my lips, pronouncing do like dew. So I repeat it again: “What dew you dew, Sulu,” before continuing. “He says to me, the man of science, ‘It’s all in my head.’ And so I think, ‘How do you prove what you’re thinking even exists—because it’s all theory.’ He said, ‘Well, I’ve got these very elegant numbers and equations—E and B divided into the seven of four.’”
I turn to the neighbor’s dog, currently pooping on the lawn, and I tell him, “E and B divided into the seven of four. It’s all in his head!”
The dog seems unimpressed. Perhaps he has never heard of William Shatner before.
“How do you…prove… a black hole? How do you…know…those gravitational waves prove the collision…of two black holes?”
There’s one too many bags of trash to close the lid, and the dog has no answer to give.
“No, they can’t observe phenomena! It’s too far…away…it’s too…theoretical. How do we know what they’re saying….is true?”
My wife opens the front door. She says dinner is ready.
I tell her, “You know what it really is….it’s all…science-fiction.”
“It’s salmon, actually,” she says.
“Science-fiction says this is the story that I’m making up and there’s… this thing…. called worm holes. Worm holes, Uhura!”
My wife sighs as I make my way to the table.
“And that’s a science-fiction concept…. wormholes. Although these scientists… they also say there are wormholes. And I ask them, I say, how do you know? It’s all in their head!” My twin sons are already seated at the table, staring with those unblinking eyes. “Science and science-fiction…they’re both the same!”
My wife says she was never really into Captain Kirk, anyways.
“Captain Picard, however,” She grins with the hidden recollection of her youth.