Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
Does anybody really care? Hey, Einstein, wake my wife—please.
Illustration by Deanna Staffo, www.deannastaffo.com
For all the years we’ve been married (we are currently enjoying our 340th year of bliss), my wife has had her own method of setting our alarm clock. While many take advantage of the snooze button, my spouse takes a more Einsteinian view of her universe.
(For those of you who have not read the current biography, Einstein proved that time and space were not independent, but that they exist relative to their observation and measurement—I think.)
My hardworking spouse sets the clock ahead, usually in quarter-hour increments, so when her alarm goes off at , it is really only In my wife’s little time travel capsule, there is a logic to this. She has explained it to me in what she calls the simplest of terms. I found it to be more like Einstein explaining how gravity “bends” time and space.
What really throws me—and I’m sure it’s something Einstein would find delightful in his Special Theoretical way—is that, over time, she’ll change the increments, mostly in a forward direction, eventually to the point that she wakes up in a time zone different than the one we live in.
She once set the clock a full 30 minutes forward, which meant that when it rang, we were waking at, I believe, the same time as people in Newfoundland. During that period, I’d fight an urge to brush, dress and head out to herd reindeer.
The half-hour increments were an easy adjustment, arithmetically speaking. It was when she’d choose more irregular intervals that the math took on aspects of quantum mechanics.
My wife has set the clock forward in 10-minute, 20-minute and, in one cosmic upheaval of the time-space continuum, a full 45 minutes. The calculations back to real time are almost impossible in those first moments of wakefulness. I found it easier to open a window and observe the positions of the sun, moon and Orion to determine real time.
As near as I can figure, my wife is exciting the pain-pleasure principle as it applies to waking up. By looking at the clock when the alarm goes off and seeing that it is relatively late, her adrenalin sends her a shot of anxiety, which is immediately followed by her pleasurable awareness that it is only—what?—15, 20, 30 or 45 minutes earlier than the clock says. (Einstein may indeed be proven correct that God does not play dice with the universe, but He certainly has my wife spinning roulette in our bedroom.)
My revenge: When the power has gone out, I reset the clock to precise Eastern or Eastern Daylight Time. When the alarm goes off the next morning, my wife looks at the readout, and I watch her fall back into her pillow with a sigh of pleasure. I wait maybe five minutes, then casually announce that I had to reset the clocks. Her eyes blaze like comets, she shoots a desperate glance at “true time,” cries out “I’m late!” then—talk about your quantum leaps—jumps from the bed at the speed of light.
I’m calling it my General Theory of Marriage.
Should Reid Champagne ever ask you for the time, be helpful. He really doesn’t know.