Wednesday, June 29, 2011
*Time To Have More Time
["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published June 30, 2011] © 2011
I’ve spent considerable time over the years pondering the mysteries of the universe, but the one I truly can’t solve is why it takes four La Jolla women eighty emails to find a mutually-agreed upon date for lunch.
Of course, that also applies to movie groups, book clubs, bridge dates, and pretty much any activity where more than three women are attempting to congregate.
I know there are digital applications where everyone can post her available dates. But it doesn’t matter. By the time everyone does, someone is already not available. How is it that we can be this busy?
A friend belongs to a theoretically-weekly bridge foursome that only ends up meeting about ten times a year. Hoping to improve that, they enacted policy about requiring a replacement to be provided should one not be able to attend. That lasted until four subs showed up to play.
Now, I’ve never belonged to either a bridge club (can’t count cards to save my life) or a book club, but I have belonged to a number of movie groups. One that I belonged to had eight members. Deciding on a movie was complicated enough, so to keep the logistics down, we decided we would always meet on the second Thursday of the month. We saw lots of movies over time but the one date on which we never saw one was the second Thursday of the month. Because as soon as the long-suffering movie group organizer sent out a query as to what we wanted to see, someone invariably responded that she wouldn’t be available on that night but would be available on these nights. And then we were off and running. Eighty emails to find a new date would have been optimistic.
The organizer of that group, who valiantly hung in there for years and for whom I have nothing but admiration, is now rumored to be in a home for the organizationally frustrated, sipping umbrella drinks on a bucolic lawn and being tended by white-coated professionals.
Because even when we finally agreed upon a new date (which curiously always seemed to be a Monday even though we’d all decided earlier that we shouldn’t meet on Mondays since it was a bad day for everyone), we had to pick a movie. (A corollary of the Eighty Emails To Find a Date Rule seems to be Forty Emails to Agree on Anything Else.) Now, these were women who liked movies (and hence why they joined such a group) and some of them belonged to film societies as well. So we couldn’t see any of the film society picks, or anything that was being reserved to see with a husband, or even that anyone had already seen with someone else. One of our members would only see “important” movies, defined as being well reviewed by the New York Times film critic and thus having socially-redeeming value. I myself am a “fluffy” movie person (think Herbie: Fully Loaded) but movie groups are not generally fluffy movie crowds. In fact, we did not see movies; we saw “films”. The end result was that our selections were often three-hour black and white graphically-violent war dramas in Hungarian with subtitles depicting (way too successfully, in my view) the misery of the human condition. But no one had already seen it. (I think that statement may apply globally.) I spent many of these with my jacket over my head. However, I totally adored the other women in the group and we always had dinner afterwards, often with enough wine to blot out memories of the movie which usually caused me screaming nightmares for weeks.
I would also mention that the person who threw out the first volley about changing the date usually cancelled at the last minute. And don’t even ask how many emails it was to decide where to go to dinner.
But getting back to my topic (and somewhere back there, I think I had one): what is it that we’re all doing that scheduling anything is so impossible? For most of my friends, our car pool days are over, but we seem to have filled that time with endless other activities. I have to say that one of my favorite excuses for being unavailable came a few months ago from a long-time extremely dear friend who had volunteered to make the communion wafers for church, a full day affair. (Well, at least that way you know they didn’t from China.) Even her son said, “So Mom, is holycommunionwafers.com out of the question?” That one gets a pass for pure originality.
But otherwise, I’m kind of hoping that the pendulum can swing the other way on this frantic over-scheduling of our lives. Because this eighty emails thing? We have better things to do with our time.