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About Time part 7: Rupert

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As the story About Time takes its next twist, it is difficult to decide whether the writers' view of love is highly optimistic or terribly jaded. Within a week of not meeting Tim, Mary is totally in love with someone else, Rupert, whom she met at a party at Joanna's. Tim leaps back to crash the party under the pretext that he is a friend of Mary (Joanna is surprised to learn that Mary has a friend besides her), uses Rupert's angle to draw Mary away from the party before Rupert arrives, throws some words about Mary's idol fashion model Kate Moss which he got from Mary in the previous history, and Mary seizes him like a drowning man going for a lifering, and soon they are together in bed at what is clearly her invitation. She is totally in love with Tim, and has never met Rupert.

The jaded view this suggests is that if you want someone to fall in love with you, you simply need to find someone who is ready to fall in love with someone and become the right person in the right place at the right time. If you are not there, she will fall in love with someone who is and never give you a second look.

The optimistic view is even less romantic, in a sense. Just as the girl (or guy) of your dreams might fall in love with someone else because you missed the opportunity to be there when she was falling in love, so too there is someone else out there who will fall in love with you if you manage to be the right person in the right place at the right time. You might miss the perfect person, but then find someone else who is perfect.

In fact, that seems to have happened with Tim. Charlotte, who rebuffed his advances over the summer, returns. He sees her when he is at the theatre, and tells Rory how totally perfect she is while trying to avoid her. She now changes her mind, stating outright that she made a mistake. (We might think it was now the right time for her, and again Tim is the right person in the right place.) Tim decides against the liaison--but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Having removed Rupert from the picture, Tim consummates with Mary what we take to be his first stumbling sexual experience; she tells him how the bra works. He decides that he did not do really all that well, so he excuses himself, goes back to the starting point, and repeats it. He then decides that he can do better yet, so he goes back once more for a third attempt at a first time. He does wonderfully well, apparently, and then announces that he is going to sleep. She teases him about once being enough, he responds that it's not exactly fair, and there is a hint that he is exhausted from having done this thrice. Yet he has not done it thrice; his body has done it once. He remembers doing it thrice, because he remembers the histories which he has erased, but if he is exhausted after the third first time, it can only really be because he exhausted himself on that time.

It then must be observed that Tim stays in the past, letting time carry him back to the moment of his departure. He did this before, with applying the suntan lotion, but in that case it was a matter of repeated minutes. This time he relives several days. Whatever he originally did in that time he now has never done, but since most of that entailed trying to catch Mary at the Kate Moss exhibit all he has lost is the time he spent with Kit, which now he remembers but she does not.

There is another notable detail in what we just covered, but if you missed it we will address it next time.

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