'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
TIME FLIES BY TOO FAST
Another birthday? Didn’t I just have one a few months ago? I can’t believe I am now closer to age 50 than age 40. Is it me, or has time been flying?
The insurance company charts tell me if I avoid getting hit by a cement truck or buying a house in the suburbs west of Baghdad, I should be around for another three decades or so. I’d like to think it means I’m not even two-thirds of the way through life. But I’ve got a feeling a year is not as long as it used to be. Life is starting to feel like a VCR on fast-forward scan.
I can remember being taught the basic equations as a kid: sixty minutes in an hour, twenty-four hours in a day, twelve months in a year (except for election years which go on for at least 20 months). Anyway, we were taught time is constant. Time marches on. That may be the case with a clock, but as far as people are concerned, the passing of time is flexible.
Think of it this way. Spend 60 minutes in a dentist’s chair having gum surgery. (“My, My. We haven’t been flossing, have we? Oh Nancy, please cancel my next two appointments.”) Now, in comparison, spend an hour in a beach chair in Hawaii. (“Another daiquiri before the hula show, sir?”)
See? 60 minutes may always be an hour, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like an hour. The same thing apparently happens to months and years, too. Unfortunately, the trend is that time accelerates and the years get quicker as we get older.
I think it began to happen during our early twenties. At that age, we were young, healthy, and unburdened by any real worries or responsibilities. As we spent most of our waking hours trying to prove that beer commercials accurately portray a normal lifestyle, we didn’t notice that time was beginning to accelerate.
A few years later, other distractions kept us from noticing that time was getting quicker. The jobs and weddings and houses and new babies held most of our attention. Then one day, there was a conversation with the kid who lives down the street.
“So Wendell, I hear you’re graduating from high school next month?”
“That’s right Mr. Dunn.”
“Call me Bill. Ah, yes, I remember when I graduated from high school not too long ago.”
“Gee Bill, your wife said that when you graduated from high school, my mom was in the 8th grade.”
“Go home, Wendell. And it’s Mr. Dunn to you!”
Yes, it’s quite a shock to realize the ground rules about time have been altered. But even with this new awareness, it is too late. We are now locked into our very important “adult” schedule. Much of our time is now devoted to very serious and pressing concerns—like vinyl siding, office politics, and why hair is vanishing from the top of our heads and sprouting from our nostrils and ears.
It seems like yesterday I was asking myself what I want to be when I grow up. Now I’m asking myself what I want to do when I retire. (I never did figured out what I want to be when I grow up, but it’s too late for that now. And after studying the financial stability of the Social Security and Medicare programs, I already know what I’m going to do when I retire: spend eight hours a day saying, “Welcome to Wal-Mart.”)
When I turn 60, I bet a decade will seem like a mere one or two years. That’s why guys like Mike Wallace think it’s only been nine years since Eisenhower was president.
So here I am in my mid-forties. (OK, OK. Mid to upper forties.) Time is now doing 80 in a 35 MPH zone. I guess I should hang on and enjoy the ride since this part of the journey is going to go by in the blink of an eye.
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