Reporters sit around the newsroom playing cards, reading the paper and talking on the phone. (Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis/Getty Images )

Brian Wilson said it best: “I guess I just wasn’t made for these times.”

I think about that Beach Boys song from, um, time to time. Nobody really knows what it’s like to live in any other time but their own, of course. For me, that’s the time from 1962 to today. (And, honestly, those first few years are pretty blurry.)

But we can imagine. We can inventory our likes and dislikes, probe the particular crenellations of our unique personality, and fantasize that if we were somehow magically dropped into 1922 or 1722 or 1522, we might enjoy ourselves a whole lot more than we do right now, stuck firmly in the grimly real 2022.

If, for example, you enjoy the swish of crinoline against your thighs, you get precious little opportunity to feel it these days. But step back to 1860 and you could spend all day in a stiffened petticoat and no one would bat an eye.

Of course, this thought experiment raises a question: Have you been transported back to the past along with all the knowledge you possess today, in the 21st century? In other words, is this a “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” situation?

For the sake of argument, let’s imagine that it is. That means when you popped up in 1860, you could invest in a brass button foundry and clean up when the Union Army suddenly needs beaucoup buttons for its soldiers’ uniforms.

Or maybe you should kill John Wilkes Booth, instead.

You can see why time travel is so hard. So many decisions! And it will only get harder should you let it slip that you’re from the future. You’ll be telling people how lucky they are to have crinolines — just try to get a decent one in 2022! — and they’ll be bugging you about this iPhone thing you mentioned.

“You truly can talk to anyone with this pocket telegraph and make daguerreotypes of your breakfast?” they’ll say. “You simply must build us one!”

Now you’re really stuck, because though you once used an iPhone every day, you don’t actually know how it works, let alone how to make one.

“Look,” you’ll say, “has the paper clip been invented yet? I might be able to swing that.”

So maybe we should say you don’t know you’re from the future, or if you do, you’re not going to make a big deal about it. You’re just going to enjoy yourself, exploring whether the grass really is greener on the other side of the space-time continuum.

For me, the perfect time would be … oh, let’s say the 1930s. Men wore hats, milk came in bottles and local newspaper columnists were treated like gods. Readers hung on their every word. They bought columnists drinks in bars and gave them horse-racing tips.

Even better than the acclaim outside the newsroom was the life inside it. When columnists pulled their latest gems from their typewriters — accompanied by the screech of the platen and the cry of “Copy!” — they were done. They didn’t have to then write a headline, plus a different headline for the Web. They didn’t have to sprinkle in some keywords and some links. They didn’t have to write a blurb and hunt down a photo. They didn’t have to puzzle over how best to convey the essence of their timeless prose in 140 characters.

They could just grab their hat and go to the bar. Or the track. Or the bar at the track.

Of course, there was disease, poverty and inequality in the 1930s. And soon the world would erupt in war.

Come to think of it, that pretty much describes any era you can imagine. Maybe there really is no time like the present.

A timed exercise

Still, I’m curious what you think. Do you sometimes feel like a man or woman out of time? Have you ever daydreamed about a particular era and place, convinced it would suit you better? Send the details — with “My time” in the subject line — to me at