Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sprung

This is the weekend everyone in my neck of the world springs ahead, meaning we turn our clocks ahead one hour to usher in Daylight Saving Time.
Daylight Saving Time,
copyright, Teece Aronin.

So many things about this ritual confuse me, starting with the name; is it Daylight Savings or Daylight Saving? I've thought about this quite a bit. For years I thought it was Savings, but often see it indicated as Saving. Why this distinction bothers me I have no idea. If I dedicated as much thought to other aspects of time, I could discuss Einstein's theories more impressively at cocktail parties and maybe even get places when I'm supposed to - the latter being the bigger achievement despite not having a science-minded bone in my body and never getting invited to cocktail parties.

I'm also confused by whether I'm really saving anything valuable since I've just lost an hour of sleep and will be exhausted all week. Every winter I get all psyched up in anticipation of Daylight Saving(s?) Time only to get there and find myself haunting my house like a doped-up ghost until my circadian clock catches up. 

And what exactly happens anyway? How did I just gain an hour of daylight and lose an hour of sleep? I mean I get it - sort of - but it still seems counter-intuitive - or counter-clockwise - or counter-something. 

Then of course, the first day of spring arrives at roughly the same time we spring ahead. This is an event I've overblown in importance for years. Ever since I learned that spring commences at a specific time of day, say 12:57 p.m., I've gotten all excited about it every year and find myself staring at the clock or my watch a few minutes ahead so that I'll be aware the very moment it begins, kind of like New Year's Eve without a lot of hoopla. 

Years ago on the first day of spring I was babysitting for a four-year-old. I told him that spring would arrive later that day and that we could go outside a minute before and do a 60-second countdown to welcome in the new season. I was careful to explain that we wouldn't actually see spring arrive, but still, it would be coming at the same time we were outside counting. We walked out of the house, and the conversation went like this: 

Me: Okay, here we are, out on the front porch. Spring will be here in exactly one minute. Are you ready to do the countdown with me?

Jamie: Yup!

Me: Okay, repeat after me: Sixty!

Jamie: Sixty!

Me: Fifty-nine!

Jamie: Fifty-nine!

Me: Fifty-eight!

Jamie: Fifty-eight!

Down and down we counted until . . .

Me: Three!

Jamie: Three!

Me: Two!

Jamie: Two!

Me: One!

Jamie: One!

Me: Happy Spring!

Jamie: Happy Spring! . . . Now what?

Me: Now what what?

Jamie: Now what happens?

Me: Well, nothing happens.

Jamie: But where's the spring?

Me: It's here, right here, all around us.

Jamie: But nothing happened.

Me: Well, we didn't see anything happen. But something did happen.

Jamie: What?

Me: Spring.

Jamie: Where?

Me: Here. Everywhere. All around us.

Jamie: Oh, man, dat was a bummer. I goin' back in da house. 

So here we are again, having just gained light and lost sleep. It's too confusing for me to ever fully grasp, so this will be the year I just roll with it. By the way, I looked it up, and according to the website, TimeAndDate.com, it's Daylight Saving Time.

So now, I've lost an hour's sleep, and I've also lost my S. On the bright side, I have an extra hour of daylight with which to go find them. 






Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sammy Davis, Jr. Went Swimming with My Mother (No He Didn't)

It was a mistake any white four-year-old could make - in 1962.
Graphic, copyright Teece Aronin

When I was four, my mother told me a story about a civil rights activist she admired. He was a contemporary of Dr. Martin Luther King and his name was James Farmer. Knowing what I know about him now, he was one of the bravest people who ever lived because he was one of the volunteers who rode buses throughout the South testing how successfully and safely blacks could enjoy their newly established equal legal status. 

This was a time when Jim Crow, separate but equal laws were still in force in a de facto way, meaning that forcing blacks to the back of the bus was supposed to be illegal but was still a stubbornly lingering practice. What Farmer did was extremely dangerous and blacks were frequently beaten and lynched for this kind of "brazen" behavior. 

When my mother was a girl, Farmer visited the church camp she was attending, spoke with the children, and swam with them in the lake. I was impressed by this and bragged to my Sunday school class that my mother had gone swimming with Sammy Davis, Jr. I loved Sammy Davis, Jr. I also lived in an all-white neighborhood since neighborhoods, even in the North where I was from, still tended to be segregated. The black men in my life were either Sammy Davis, Jr. or Nat King Cole. I loved him, too.

When my Sunday school teacher fawned over my mother, telling her what I'd shared with the class and swooning over how thrilling it must have been to go swimming with Sammy Davis, Junior, my mother, who never swore - even in her mind - had a WTH moment. Immediately she whisked me aside and abruptly demanded to know what that was all about.

Once I'd explained, and she saw how guileless I was about it, she laughed.

Then she had to explain things to my Sunday school teacher who probably thought James Farmer was a singer too.

But my Sunday school teacher wouldn't have had my excuse.