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Tempus Fudge-It by Robert Emmett

I have been waiting for this day forever. Not “forever”, I shouldn’t say that. I hate when words are used in a less than literal sense. I think that is a big part of how we got into the current mess we find ourselves in, literally.

It started with the deregulation of Time. Although no one would have called it that when it was introduced. Some will argue it started earlier, with the broadening of the language, first when they decided that “literally” no longer meant “literally”, but could be used figuratively. When this was done, many were irked and irritated by the change, mostly struggling writers, literati, and other lovers of the language. Very few saw the actual damage it would do.

The next to go was the word “none”, which now in certain circumstances no longer has to mean “zero” but can be rounded down to “none” if the statistic is below a certain threshold, also depending on what is being measured or counted.

When the FDA says the amount of arsenic in our water is “none” they do not mean a literal “zero”, but it is such a slight amount, less than a tenth of a percent or something minuscule like that, an amount they say could in no way be considered harmful for consumption. So for all intents and purposes, they call it “none”. I suppose it sounds more definite and reassuring than the footnote legend they used to have to display informing us that the amount of poison in our water was too diluted to really be considered dangerous. That satiated a good portion of the population, but there has always been the fringe, people like me, who don’t believe much of what they tell us anymore, and who doesn’t consider any amount of arsenic at all in our water to be acceptable.

So good for them, they can now call it “none”, and they don’t even have to place an asterisk next to it anymore.

It is now perfectly legal and technically correct to tell your doctor or probation officer, when they ask how much alcohol do you drink, if it below a certain threshold, you may answer “none”. It’s based on averages, I suppose. A friend who says he is a non-drinker showed up buzzed at my house one evening, and when I asked how he was able to get away with it he explained it in somewhat foggy details.

It seems he only has five or six drinks a year, all on one night. But when he is asked by the officials what his average alcohol intake is for any given week, he can honestly answer “zero”. So, he gets to put “none” on his Government Identification and traveling papers. Even driving over to my house that night, he was stopped at a checkpoint and the officers were sure they had stumbled across easy prey, a subject they could play with for a few hours. They could see his eyes crossing and smell the whiskey emanating from him. They were sure they had him, but he produced the official documents, stamped and legitimized, the Government database listed him as a non-drinker. There was nothing they could do, they had to let him go on his blurry way.

Things got muddier and more confusing as the years went on, once the language was under Government regulation, definitions were altered by the men who carried the most cash. The large multinational corporations could afford to have whole phrases that no longer suited their needs pulled completely out of the language and their use discontinued, or deemed nonsensical. “Generic” was one of the first words to go, I am not surprised to see you haven’t heard it before. I can’t recall what it use to mean, but it doesn’t matter anymore. For one reason or another it was deemed undesirable by the powers-that-be and removed from circulation.

We all anticipated things would only get worse once Time came under Government oversight. The little law that freed us all was never really talked about in the media, in fact very few at all knew of its existence. Being the information junkie that I am, I had read all the new statutes that were put in play every year and it struck my curiosity when I saw this footnote sneaked into legislation that would have discontinued the manufacturing of the penny. You remember that?

They passed that law! It was supposed to take effect in the beginning of the following year, but here we are some twenty-five years later, still producing the one-cent piece even though currently, with copper prices what they are, it costs well over twelve hundred dollars to produce each and every penny.

If you read the fine print in that law, it was sneaked in by the farmers and clock makers I think, a little clause that made participation in Day Lights Savings Time completely voluntary. That whet my whistle enough as it was, but I kept reading to see not only could we choose to fore-go setting the clock one way or another every six months, the hours we saved or lost in the process could be rolled over.

I am not sure who is responsible for that part of the law, if it was an oversight or put in as a concession to someone who may want an option later to change their mind and rejoin the rest of the world once again moving their clocks ahead every Spring and then back again in the Autumn.

It took me a couple of months to see the real use, and when I did I quietly giggled to myself. I have kept this secret close to my heart, I have spoken barely a peep about it in the last quarter century. Every season I let my clock do what it naturally does, I do not adjust it, and slowly I have meandered out of sync with the rest of the world.

I no longer need to be silent about it. Tonight when we set our clocks back, I will once again pretend like I am moving the hands on all my timepieces, I will fiddle with the controls of the TV and make like I am tuning the alarm clock in time with the rest of the world.

I have done this every year for the past twenty-three. Quietly adjusting schedules in my head, and being careful to seem like I am synchronized with the rest of the world. It has not always been easy, and a few times it has proven downright embarrassing and even dangerous. There was the one day I accidentally miscalculated and showed up for work on the Sabbath and was almost put to death until I was able to convince the judge that I was sleepwalking.

But that is all over, tomorrow the pretending can come to end. I have saved up twenty-three hours to myself by declining to participate in Daylight Savings Time, at midnight I will have twenty-four. A whole day to myself to do as I please.

I am not sure where I will go or what exactly I will do. I have had plenty of time to think on it, but the options are so many it is impossible to narrow it down to any one thing. It doesn’t matter really, I will spend it well where ever the moment takes me, which every way the urge pulls me. Isolated and alone, not needing to consider the thoughts or feelings of anyone else, or to obey the social and legal traditions, I will be alone in my own Universe for some sweet, solitary “me” time. It is my day, and my day alone. I have saved up these twenty-four hard-earned hours, and I will make something of them, whatever my heart desires, and however I see fit.

So, at the beep, leave me a message if you wish, and I will get back to you when I return to the standard accepted time-line. But please, do not wait up.

Fiction4ADay Robert

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7 comments on “Tempus Fudge-It by Robert Emmett

  1. tonyspencerstories
    November 22, 2013

    Nice story, I love bafflingly illogical logic, totally believed by the comfortably convinced. Love it!

  2. Pingback: F4AD – Tempus Fudge-It by Robert Emmett | Postcard Poems and Prose

  3. Annette
    November 23, 2013

    Love the part on daylight savings.

  4. nicksfics
    November 23, 2013

    There’s a certain reveling in the nonsensical here that I really love. Being a fellow Chicago native I’d like to say it’s a regional thing, but it seems our world as it is now breeds this sort of thing. Take my follow!

  5. I am going to think about this every time I change my clock from now on!

  6. Pingback: Tempus Fudge It | irobert.me

  7. Jennifer Courtney
    November 28, 2013

    This story rocks!

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This entry was posted on November 25, 2013 by .
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