Monday, November 6, 2006

Never Better Late

My belly is flabby. My memory is shot. I'm tired all the time, and
I've been known to slip into baby talk with friends and colleagues.

But motherhood has endowed me with a superpower. A talent the likes of which I never expected I could possess: punctuality. 

used to be pathologically late. My husband once asked me if I ate time,
because he had trouble figuring out what else I could have done with
it. I was the person you lied to about movie start times. I showed up
late to Lorene's wedding and gave her a great big hug, only to be told,
"Um, Mayrav, it's nice to see you, but the reason all those people are
looking at me right now is that I'm about to walk down the aisle. So
could you please find a seat?"

Now? Now, I'm not only on time,
I'm the kind of on-time that takes into account parking and slow
elevators. The best thing about my new superpower, though, is that it
has given me the ability to predict exactly how late other people are
going to be.

Mom's hair appointment was at noon in the Valley. She said she was going to come over right after.

"So I'll see you at 5?" I said.

"What 5?" she said "My appointment is at noon. I'll be there at 2."


In the meantime, Keren called to see if I'd be free for a late lunch, "sometime around 3."

I thought about it for about a half-second.

"Yeah. I'll be able to make it."

Later, when my mom showed up, I looked at the clock. 4:50 p.m.

Lisa said she wanted to stop by for coffee in the afternoon, I took
steaks out of the freezer. I figured afternoon on Planet Lisa meant 6
p.m. Earth time, but then figuring for traffic, she could easily be
here as late as 7. And she'd be hungry. Her arrival time? 8 p.m. We had
a delightful dinner.

Former late arrivers are the opposite of
former smokers: We're totally mellow about it. But late arrivers are a
jittery lot, all apologies and overcompensation. In Lisa's case, she
usually buys the first two rounds if she's late meeting a friend at a
bar. (Note to self: Invite Lisa to more bars.)

"I want you to know, I'm trying to reform myself," Lisa said, when I called her later. "I've gotten much better."

"Yeah? What are you doing differently?"

"I'm trying not to take on too many things."

it should be noted, was talking to me from the self-checkout kiosk of
the grocery store where she was buying a few last-minute items that
she'd forgotten for the pasta sauce that she'd left cooking on the
stove at home.

"How's that going for you?"

said lateness comes from a desire to please – you don't want to say no
to anything, so you end up taking on too much and showing up late to
all of it. "I don't want to come off looking bad, but I always do."

She didn't need to explain. I'm the same way. Or at least I was.

like to say that Zev has inspired a greater focus in my life. Or that
my desire to spend quality time with him forces me to work faster, more
efficiently and manage my time better. I'd like to say a lot of things
that people always say after they have kids. The truth is, I think I
was zapped with a gamma ray. I'm simply not the same human being I used
to be.

But while Lisa was busy analyzing the root cause of her
tardiness ("I always underestimate how long it takes to do anything"),
I was trying hard not to think too much about my new superpower, for
fear I'd lose it. If Lisa wants to reform her ways, I want to help out
– offer some advice from my own life experience. But "have a kid"
sounds as ridiculous as "get bitten by a radioactive spider."

I got out of it the same way I got into it: Zev. It was nearing his
bedtime and I had pajamas to put on, books to read and snuggling to do.
So I got off the phone.

I didn't want to be late.

1 comment:

  1. Another great column!! This is one of those things everyone has been a part of. I had a friend named Sarah that was chronically late. I mean she would say she'd be there at 2p.m. and I knew that meant about an hour later. She only lived 15 minutes away, so I always wondered what kept her. I took that into account each time we got together. I mean tragic because she was late to her own college graduation. I just laughed because this was typical.
    Now, me on the other hand, I am never late. At any costs I cannot be late. It's in my genetic make up or something. My new job is about an hour away when there is some traffic, so the day of my orientaion at 8a.m. I left at 7a.m. I just got there 5 minutes before it began and for some reason that made me insane. Now I leave at 6:45a.m. for work at 8 and I end up getting there 1/2 hour early everyday. In the winter I will probably have to leave at 4a.m. just to make sure I am there on time. I don't know why I am like this, but I get really anxious if there is even an smidge that I would be late anywhere.
    Just thought I'd share,