by Tony Ertel
Who knows what the phrase, “time is relative,” really means? After just a bit of research and some time spent considering the observation of photons bouncing off of mirrors, the speed of light, and distance divided by time I am ready to give up on understanding its significance as an element of physics – for the time being at least. For now, I prefer to stick with my own simple understanding. While my intuition regarding this relativity is lacking in theoretical vocabulary and scientific genius, I believe its “gravity” in the realm of practicality is quite important and immediate. My modest understanding relates to the difference in the way the sexes perceive time. I could easily replace “time is relative” with “she thinks it takes how long and you told her what?”
I believe that man and woman’s difference in the understanding of time can be summed up in his oft- used expression, “it’ll be just 10 more minutes.” I would be hard-pressed to find a woman who wasn’t a little frustrated or bewildered after hearing this reply from her dear husband. I believe I would have an equally difficult time finding a woman that doesn’t hear this confounding response on a semi- regular basis. Yes, there are a few men out there who have surpassed the majority of the male species in their understanding of and sensitivity toward the female species. And there are even fewer who have embraced that particular enlightenment and adjusted their internal clocks to be “right on time” exactly how she likes it.
This adaptation is deserving of praise, but is not necessarily the bar for excellence among gentlemen. While the ladies may love being on the same wavelength as their men, I think it is important for them to realize that those men are not correcting a wrong behavior, but simply learning a new language. I hope to share with all of my sisters out there that he isn’t wrong when he says “10 more minutes,” that he isn’t lying when he says “I’m almost ready,” and that things are as they should be when you think you are running a little late.
Perhaps this phenomenon can be best understood by looking at the world of sports. I propose that
the man’s 10-minute claim is akin to any time block in a sport’s game. For example, the final 2 minutes of a basketball game can hardly fit into the same 2 minutes that it takes to heat your coffee in the microwave. If the microwave was set to run through the end of the game, burnt or boiling coffee would be the result. If the game was set to finish at the “ding!” of the microwave, the result would quite probably be several unattended injuries, riotous fans, and confusion as to which team actually claimed the victory. Neither result is the least bit agreeable, yet both timeframes stand in their own right.
So maybe it is best to see his 10 minutes in a new frame. When I recently said to my wife that I would be “about another 10 minutes” working on my project, I certainly did not set my stopwatch. In that statement, I took into account the “timeouts,” potential injuries, and other inevitable clock-stopping occurrences. She, I believe, thought it quite sensible, however, that I adhere to an atomically calibrated stopwatch. But what is the good of a stopwatch’s ringing alarm if the overtime period has necessarily commenced? Well, at that point, she at least deserves to be notified of the new development. My preference is a whooping yell and an “Overtime Babaaaay!” But seriously, I think a conversation and a better understanding of how we all mean “10 minutes” is the first step toward synchronization.
His “yes” still means “yes” just as her “no” means “no.” Sometimes though, in the complex and mysterious relationship of the sexes, his “yes” means her “no.” For both parties to acknowledge that these subtleties exist and communicating to be more clearly understood is an effort of love and hope. With that being said, I should wrap this up and spend some time with my lovely wife.
“Sweetie, I need to proofread this post, I’ll be five more minutes. Well, you know...”
“Alright referee timeout. Can you review that play and let me know how that converts to actual minutes?”
“Yes darling, uhhh... ummm... ahhh... Well, let’s maybe do a range. How about 10 – 20 minutes? No more than 20, I promise.”
It’s harder than you might think, and there’s nothing wrong with starting with a range, right?* That is something that we all understand.
*Guys, if she agrees to communicating with ranges, that second number is the “out-the-door number.” Once that time has come, you better be ready to head “out-the-door,” otherwise you might find yourself on the other side of the door – and rightfully so.
Tony is currently finishing his MBA. He resides with his lovely wife in Cincinnati, Ohio and is kind enough to contribute his humorous perspective in this regular column, Restrained Mirth.