Coördinated Universal Time is the basis for civil time today, and employs highly precise atomic clocks and the power of Earth’s rotation to keep the twenty-four-hour time standard. However, a recently intercepted internal memo has confirmed what we’ve all been feeling—that time is warped, wobbled, and way off track. So it’s about time to adjust how we tell time.
Everyone needs to add two years to whatever they’re trying to recall. If you think you went to Disney with the kids three years ago, it’s really five. You may believe that you just moved into that new apartment, but you’ve been there more than twenty-four months. You should also adjust your thinking on how long it’s been since you had dinner with friends, went for a physical, and started paying for Hulu.
Another recent change is that the universal rubric for what makes up a day has been shattered. Now a day is a day only if you want it to be. Some may find themselves productively marking off days on the calendar, but millions more are drifting through a cotton-ball haze that takes them from bed to the kitchen, deep into a bag of Kettle Chips, and right back to bed. A Cleveland, Ohio, woman so lost track of time that she was found in a laundromat, inside a dryer, “hiding from Y2K.” Whether these events will ever add up to a year is anyone’s guess.
Speaking of the year, the Roman calendar holds, but, while the course of the sun and the moon remain the most prominent factors in timekeeping, they have become difficult to track when we’re squeezing our eyes shut for as long as possible, hoping to wake up when it’s all over.
And yet time is still relative. The average time it takes to get the results of a COVID test is directly related to how much fun you would’ve had doing the thing that a positive test would render you unable to do. A five-hour flight from New York to L.A. now feels like ten hours, which is the same amount of time that it takes for your mask’s elastic bands to completely sever both your ears. Once on the ground, the wait at baggage claim will be just long enough to make even the most courteous people start pulling their masks off, using them as tissues, and then tossing them at other travellers.
This once-in-a-century pandemic actually started a hundred years ago and never stopped, and everything we read about in the history books really happened to us but, memory being what it is, now seems like somebody else’s experience, though it’s best to just nod along so as not to appear totally insane.
Fun fact: We’ve all been aging in dog years since 2019, and that means you are fourteen years older than you think you are. On the plus side, unless you’re a German Shepherd or Burmese Mountain Dog, you should be able to keep your hips well past your hundredth birthday. Your cat, on the other hand, is calmly grooming himself on the windowsill and can’t figure out why everyone else is freaking out.
The insurrection actually happened seven years ago. “The other guy” has only been out of office for a year, but, in a strange twist of the time-space continuum, it feels like he was in office for more than twenty years. Also, unlike other Presidents who immediately went gray on the job, he stayed the same and everyone else in the world went gray. President Biden, meanwhile, has stopped aging altogether, likely the result of his weekly amber dip.
Some other useful, updated definitions of time metrics:
In the blink of an eye. How quickly you are expected to take a sip of water before pulling your mask back up in order to prevent getting mean glares from the people around you.
Thirty seconds. The amount of time you will be able to dine outside in New York in midwinter.
Three hours. The amount of time you will be able to dine outside in New York in midwinter if you are wearing a puffy coat and are filled with whiskey.
Who knows? The last time there were Winter Olympics.
From now until the break of day. How long it will take to binge enough “Ozark” in order to catch up to your friends and participate in a conversation.
Till Hell freezes over. How long you have to wait to get a rental car at the Dallas Airport. There are, however, cars available at rental-car facilities about thirty miles outside the city!
Five days. How long an Uber will take to ferry you to the car-rental facility outside the city.
Twenty-eight days. The average life span of a housefly. Officials tracking Greenwich Mean Time are not suggesting that we act like houseflies, but they emphasize that pondering housefly mortality can be a useful way to distract yourself from the feeling that your memory is scattering in the wind like dandelion fluff while you are secretly counting the months gone by on your fingers in order to figure out whether summer is approaching or has just passed.
The good news is that there are signs of what is now being called Real Time Restoration. This will be an emotional re-synching of time that will get us back to the place of being way too busy and doing way too many things, always. Until then, it’s best to eat an entire tray of mac ’n’ cheese with a large wooden spoon, turn off all your devices, and hunker down for a long winter’s nap.