“What’s cooking?” I asked.
My wife had turned the oven on before leaving for her quilting class and I wanted to know what was in it.
“Tatter-tot hot dish,” she replied.
Winter is definitely the season for comfort food.
“When do I take it out?”
“5:30,” she said.
“Uh, which 5:30?”
In most houses that would be an odd question but not around here.
In our house, 5:30 first arrives above the kitchen sink where the wall clock runs fifteen minutes fast. It then drifts into the bedroom where the alarm reports it five minutes later. After that, it wanders downstairs to visit the cuckoo clock which may or may not be working and lastly, it appears as big green digits on the micro-wave – nine minutes early.
We set our clocks to run ahead because we always run behind and we are always running late because whenever we approach the front door, little things spring up to block our path.
Have the cats been fed?
Was a curling iron left on?
Are there lights burning in the basement?
Where are the car keys?
Is it trash day?
These are all petty things – but they grow in intensity as we move toward the door and eventually these little urgencies surpass the importance of whatever is looming in our future. So we resort to self-deception by setting our clocks ahead.
It never works though – since we know the clocks run fast, we fritter away our cushion of time.
You might ask, wouldn’t it be better to be honest with ourselves?
To be perfectly honest, I am leery of this to thine own self be true business. So much of our lives are based on healthy delusion. We actually believe that Ford trucks are built strong, detergents are both new and improved, and what Garrison Keillor says is true, our women are strong, our men are good looking, and our children are above average.
People need delusion to survive. Without it, a rational person would never get out of bed. There is a word for this self-deception, it is called optimism and an optimist is someone who knows how to lie convincingly to themselves.
It is why I can point to the kitchen clock and shout, “We are already late. We have to leave NOW!!”
It may be a lie but it is a good and useful lie. Still it does nothing to address the problem of the hot dish.
“Which clock should I use?” I asked.
“I’m not sure.”
“Why didn’t you set the timer on the oven?”
“I did but I have to warn you about something.”
“It will begin beeping fifteen minutes early. I know how hard it is for you to get up and walk across the house.”