Prompt Images

I’ve always considered the concept of time vitally important. Staying on schedule. Getting to where I need to be when planned seemed necessary for myself and everyone around me.

I guess you could say that I’ve always had a healthy respect for the importance of time in a busy, modern life.

In 1904, George Francis FitzGerald and Hendrik Lorentz explained how time and light were related, how light traveled over distance in something called local time. Later, Henri Poincare showed the world how time and space were elegantly connected through a principle called synchronized relativity. Finally, it was Albert Einstein who fully developed the theorem of how space, time, mass, and the speed at which mass travels are all mathematically connected.

Recently, my loving wife, activist, homemaker, hobbyist, and accidental amateur astrophysicist, has argued otherwise. She’s proven (to me, at least) beyond a shadow of a doubt, that all of them got one big thing completely wrong.

I find myself once again aggravated, standing at the front door, maybe thirty minutes behind when we’d planned to leave on a trip.

As traffic patterns and arrival expectations weighed on me, my wife is still upstairs doing God knows what. Finally, she emerges, strolling down the steps, oblivious to my angst, without a care. Her eyes remind me once again that she was making her undisputable, peer-reviewed point loud and clear for the whole world to heed.

Time doesn’t matter.

I rethink every elaborate thing I tried to do to prevent this lateness. Discussing and agreeing on the timing the night before. Chasing packables into the car early. Laying out her travel bags ahead of time and even having her most needed things staged in advance. Waking up early and providing gentle nudges to get moving.

And yet, for perhaps the millionth time, here we are.

Her recent paper, published last month in Science, is getting real academic traction.

Consider this: We’re getting ready for a dinner party on Alpha Centauri and we’re running say 17 nanoseconds behind. I drive at the speed of light to get us there. Do you think they’re just gonna start eating without us?

Or this: we’re headed out to a concert on asteroid B7N1465, but I feel like stopping off to get a coffee and stretching my legs, then I realize I need something. Who cares about the opening act, I mean, seriously?

This paper was very well thought out. She had every base covered. I’ll click off just a few here:

Church. Look, it’s just music and genuflecting early. I’ll get us there by the sermon.

A party. The Theorem of Fashionably Late has already been proven, no need to relitigate that here.

A long road trip. I drive fast (this is quite true, in fact. She’s the only person clocked 20 mph over the speed limit coming out of the driveway)

A medical appointment (mine). I’ll drop you at the door. Those people always run behind. Let them wait for once.

A medical appointment (hers). Just reschedule it… Ha! Now I don’t even have to go!

Some random event important to our daughter (who, herself attempts every trick in the book to not be tethered to a parent who refutes the concept of time).  A veritable rationalization salad:

Why is this so important that…

You don’t spend enough time with us…

They could have just come to us…

You didn’t even tell me about this until…

Should I be expected to just drop everything and…

You know I’m getting a little bit tired of your…     

And my personal favorite…

Our wedding. Do you REALLY think they’ll start this thing without me?

My wife argues that Lorentz and Einstein did, in fact, apply coefficients that made local time relative, which she interprets a things like how long it really takes to get out of the shower and get dressed, or why a series of random things on the internet MUST be carefully studied before getting ready to meet a deadline. My wife points to that concept of “local time” and proceeds to explore, and then redefine it exhaustively for the modern scientific community.

While I’m not ready to award her the Nobel Prize just yet, I’m starting to come around to her way of thinking.

We’ll get there when we get there.

Devin Householder

Devin is passionate about writing, reading and remaining in emotionally harmful relationships with losing sports teams. He suffers quietly (except on Sundays) with his loving wife and daughter in Rhode Island.

learn more
Share this story
About The Prompt
A sweet, sweet collective of writers, artists, podcasters, and other creatives. Sound like fun?
Learn more