Friday, April 27, 2018

Killing Time

Last Saturday night we had a wedding. One of Donna's former colleagues' sons was to be wed. I've known this boy since he was a teen, and now he was getting hitched.  The colleague is someone I have gotten to be friendly with on my own.  She lost her husband a few years back and he too had become a friend.  So, this was to be a joyful occasion only diluted because Ken would not be there to share the joy.

The wedding was in a town that is South of the city.  We live due west.  The distance between the burghs is not far at all--maybe 20 miles tops--but Monday through Friday the route can be a headache.  You would easily have to plan for an hour's drive if you needed to arrive somewhere punctually.  The wedding invitation said the event would begin at 545. My experience with weddings is not all that substantive.  Usually, however, when you are told to get someplace at 545, the hosts have planned for tardiness and the dance does not begin for at least an hour afterwards.

Just to be sure to be on time we left at 5 giving ourselves only 45 minutes instead of an hour since it was a Saturday.  We got there in 20 minutes.  Since we did not think the event would begin until 615 at the earliest and we had arrived at 520 or so, I said "We've got to kill some time."

And immediately my head rocketed to an event that happened in 1959 or earlier.  My folks were visiting friends of theirs who lived on Staten Island. In 1959, while it may be difficult for anyone to believe who is not eligible for social security, there was no bridge that linked Brooklyn to Staten Island. You had to take a ferry boat to get to one of the boroughs of New York.

The thing with the ferry boat was that you could never tell how long you might have to wait on line to get on the thing if you were driving.  There were just so many cars the boat could handle.  We would always turn into the ferry line with trepidation not knowing if we were going to have to wait forever to get on.  This time, for some reason, there was no back up at all and we got on right away.

That was the good news. The bad news was that having anticipated a long wait we were in Staten Island way ahead of when we were supposed to meet the friends.  And I heard dad say to mom, "We have to kill some time."

I was at most 9 pushing 10. Could have been as young as 8 or 7.  The guy we were visiting actually died suddenly in December of 59 and I am nearly certain our visit was in the spring. I mention my age because I remember then that the expression "Kill some time" was new to me.  "Kill some time."  What did that mean?

(An aside here is that the phrase is apt right now because having checked the website before I got to the airport, and seeing that my flight to Boston was "on time" I am now parked in the august Pittsburgh international airport for three hours and have two more to wait, but that is a rant I will save for another date).

Kill time. What a concept.  I get its application of course in certain situations, but removing it out of such contexts, it is nonplussing.

A buddy of mine and I were discussing baseball strategy several years back. He asked me what was the most valuable element of a baseball game. I thought for a while and then got the right answer. "An out" I said.  They are the most valuable because you only have 27 of them in a game.  Once you are out of outs, you're out.  And there is a finite number of them.  The conversation was about the virtue of sacrifice bunts. His contention was that it was foolish to sacrifice because then you were losing a precious out.

Same with time.  We don't know the finite number of hours we have, but we know it is finite, or at least not infinite.  So killing time is the act of sacrificing, and exhausting, our most precious commodity.

This is an uncomfortable notion sitting here in the Pittsburgh airport at 9 having arrived at 528 and having been told that the plane we will be flying on, has still not left the runway at the airport it is coming from--but hey it's not like I had a choice.  If I had a choice, though, would I park myself someplace and not use the precious time I have?

Meanwhile we did a good job of killing time last Saturday. Drove down a long road. Came back. Parked in front of a synagogue to kill some more time.  Finally got back to the event venue at about 555. We walked in, and the place was packed. Everyone was seated.

They were not kidding saying to be there at 545.  We found seats way in the back in the last row that had any vacant ones. Within a few moments the ceremony began.

 I guess the wed couple to be didn't want to kill any time.

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