Saturday, December 4, 2010

236. Paradigm Of Lateness

So I’m just stepping into the shower, getting ready for a freighbor’s party, and the husband is calling out to me, “We have to go! We have to go!” like some deranged night-time rooster. I peek out of the shower to view my watch on the sink counter: 6:15 PM. The party starts at 7.

I do what I usually do when he panics: ignore him. I take my relaxing shower (well, as relaxing as it can be with a loop soundtrack of “hurry-up-hurry-up-come-on-you’re-making-us-late” playing in the background). When I get out, I throw on a towel and I confront The Husband, who is already dressed and back from dropping the kids at the sitter’s house. The Husband sits in a chair near the front door, loudly tapping his foot.

“WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?” I say in a non-accusatory tone (but what others might possibly consider to be mildly accusatory). “The party doesn’t even start until 7.”

“Exactly. And now, because of you, it’s 6:30. We should be leaving right now and, instead, you’re dripping wet.” He is not sporting a Festive Holiday Smile. He is sporting a Holiday Lateness Scowl.

“What are you talking about? We’re walking to the party! They only live five houses down! It’s not going to take us thirty minutes to get there,” I say, barely masking my exasperation.

Then he says it. The phrase that makes me question whatever it was that made me marry this man: “We need to be early to the party.”

I ask you: what kind of bad manners are these? Who is early to a party? I personally hate it when guests arrive early, as I’m always running around like a crazy person, trying to vacuum, or put on lipstick, or possibly re-plan the entire menu.

“You know what, Sweetie? Etiquette dictates that you get to a party approximately 20 to 30 minutes after the start time on the invitation,” I explain patiently, like I’m talking to my 4-year-old.

“20-30 minute after it starts?! Do you want to offend our friends?” he says, incredulous. This from a man who does not know what a hostess gift is and always seems surprised when I take a bottle of wine with us or a box of chocolates (“why are you bringing that? they invited us, remember?”).

The more I think about it, the more I realize that The Husband is Clock Challenged. It’s not that he's always early or always late; no. It’s that his idea of what time to get to things is diametrically opposed to mine.

Here is a handy-dandy reference chart of what I deem acceptable arrival times for various events:

Baby shower: 10 minutes late
Wedding: 30 minutes early
Party: 20 minutes late
Airplane take-off: 2 ½ hours early
School appointment with teacher or principal: 5 minutes early
Job interview: 15 minutes early
Ballet or theater: 20 minutes early
Pick up friend at airport: 10 minutes early
Dentist appointment: 5 minutes early
Hair cut appointment: 10 minutes early
Coffee with a girlfriend: on time
Work: on time

Now that I stop to consider it, The Husband obviously has his own cheat-sheet as well:

For any and all events listed above: 20 minutes early. (Standard.)

Whenever we're driving to the airport, I'm sweating bullets. Whenever we're going to a party, I'm trying to stall by yelling at him to stop somewhere and get gas. He just takes the specific time listed, and, in his usual Cost Analyst logical approach, subtracts 20. One size fits all.

I blow dry my hair. I put on my black tights and sparkly beige dress. I apply mascara. When I look at the clock, it’s now 7:10.

Come on come on come on come on!” like a Mantra. “We’re late!”

We walk quickly to NeighborMom’s house. We ring the bell. She answers the door, one hot roller still stuck in the side of her hair. I hand her a bouquet of red and purple flowers.

“Thanks! Welcome! Wow—uh, you guys are the first ones here.”



  1. Thank you thank you thank you for this wonderful blog! I've linked you from my own (young) blog, I'm enjoying it so much. I love your voice and I'm loving reading your pieces.

  2. wow--so great to get comments like yours! I really appreciate it! and thanks so much for linking. :)


  3. dentist? early??? are you insane????? 15 minutes late. Then I don't have to wait as damn long.

  4. steph, you need to go back and read my earlier blog, entitled: "George Clooney Is My Dentist". You might get there a full hour early.



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