Archived Story

The time just cannot wait to be in a hurry

Published 9:28am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I can’t wait for spring.

A friend said that to me.

I told him that he could wait.

There are two kinds of people. No, not those who were born in March and those who wish they had been. That’s true, but it’s not what I’m talking about here. There are those who think there are two kinds of people and those who don’t think that.

There used to be two other kinds of people. There were short people and tall people–kids and grownups. Kids had to wait, grownups didn’t. Grownups didn’t wait. They went.

Back in the day when many girls were named Mary and I fantasized about becoming E.B. White, I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t wait for Christmas to get there. I couldn’t wait for school to let out. I couldn’t wait to grow up. I couldn’t wait to get a driver’s license. I waited. I occupied my time by following older kids around and whining, “Hey, wait up, you guys.”

My parents couldn’t wait for school to start.

I waited for things. I waited to learn how to play the stomach Steinway. I’m still waiting to learn how to play an accordion.

I wished time would hurry. I was cautioned not to wish my life away. Wait until you’re older. Wait until you’re bigger. Wait until next year. Wait until your father gets home. Wait until you have your own place. Wait until pigs fly. Wait until hell freezes over.

As we move from one target audience to another, we learn that grownups do wait. They wait to graduate, get a job, retire, etc. In Lewis Carroll’s, “Through the Looking-Glass,” the Red Queen said, “Now, here you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.” Grownups have to do a lot of that.

I stopped to visit a friend who resides in a nursing home. I asked him how he was doing. He said that the people there were nice and the food was good, but he had to wait for everything. He didn’t like that.

Pat Bartlett of Dodge Center told me the story about the day he and another borrowed their employer’s new Cadillac to drive to a job. The boss was a strict nonsmoker. The fellow driving the Cadillac, Jim, was a dedicated smoker. Jim decided that he would smoke in the car, but he’d crack open the driver’s window and blow the smoke out of it. That would limit the cigarette smell in the car. That didn’t work as well as he’d hoped. So he opened the window all the way in the hopes that would air out the car. As the Cadillac pulled closely alongside a cattle hauler on the left, one of the cows backed up to the slatted wall of the trailer and relieved herself. Pat said it appeared that the cow had not done so for days. The open window became a bad thing. The Cadillac wasn’t equipped with automatic umbrellas. Time makes everything wet. The cigarette was doused, Jim was soaked, and the upholstery was wet. At least, the new odor covered the cigarette smell. Jim should have waited to have that heater.

My Cadillac story is of a day during my college years when I was hitchhiking. I wasn’t having much luck. A Cadillac pulled up beside me, stopped, and I heard the electric door locks click. I thought the driver had unlocked the doors. He had not. He’d locked them. He waved at me and drove away. I could wait forever to see him again.

Another day, I found myself in the hardware store. I’m about all I can find in a hardware store anymore, so I was questioning a helpful hardware man.

“Could I put the wallpaper on myself?” I asked.

“You could, but I think it would look better on the walls.”

I looked at samples of paint colors and discovered that white comes in 1217 shades, most with cute names. I decided to wait and let my wife pick out the color. I wouldn’t want to certify my foolishness by picking linen white instead of Dover white. I shudder at the thought of such a faux pas.

Time passes quickly. I think the scientific term is “really, really fast.”

We’re all playing in the same sandbox. Time waits for no one, but you won’t have to wait long for an invitation to join AARP.

 

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.