Please excuse my tardiness

If you know me, then you know I am not a terribly punctual person. Never have been. You may have figured that out even if we’ve never met, seeing as today’s post was supposed to go up last Wednesday.

What you may not know is that I have been SERIOUSLY trying to improve my behavior out of respect for you and your valuable time. Sadly, some of you will never believe me. My friend Jessica broke up with me because every time I tried to meet her, my car would not start–for three years. In hindsight, I probably should have made up a few new excuses, because the real reason obviously got old after a while. Mechanics stared at me blankly after starting the car 20 times in a row without incident, and frankly, my husband didn’t believe me, either. When I would call him in frustration, he would say super helpful things such as, “Did you put it in park?” Thankfully, one day when he needed to catch a flight overseas, he suddenly discovered there was an actual problem with the car.  But, by the time he admitted he had installed the car security system improperly, Jess was long gone.

In the hopes of avoiding any such break ups in the future, I have decided to come clean and admit the extent of my struggle. I would also like to solicit your assistance, since my efforts to ameliorate this problem without it have been wildly unsuccessful.

Over the years, my tardiness may have appeared constant, but the underlying causes have shifted dramatically.  Right out of college, I was completely strapped, so most of my scheduling issues were financial.  For example, I probably walked the 60 blocks from my tiny apartment to yours. Luckily, that is entirely possible in New York; it’s just damned slow. I would also stand in line for eons to avoid the ATM withdrawal fees, save up all of my errands for the one day I took the subway, and travel back and forth across Manhattan rather than exit and pay again at Bleeker Street to go uptown. Furthermore, back in the stone age before online banking, I had to balance my checkbook to the penny. Once I started monkeying around with the calculator, I was unable to leave the house until I had resolved the missing 22 cents. It takes a lot of time to be broke.

Then I left New York and moved West.  I got a decent job and managed to start paying off my loans, but my punctuality did not improve whatsoever.  My excuses from that period were mostly ridiculously lame. Let’s just say I wasn’t above a fashion crisis, so this is the era for which I feel the most repentant. Feel free to let me know if I haven’t apologized sufficiently; I’d be more than willing to grovel a little in exchange for any inconvenience I may have caused you.

Once I started having kids, I essentially gave up trying to be timely at all. On a certain level, I no longer felt responsible for my inability to function on a schedule. Babies defy time management.  One typical scenario:  I finally have the baby washed and fed, and a bag packed with:  wallet, keys, two changes of clothes, diapers, wipes, cream, changing pad, plastic bags, snacks, a tiny sweater, a hat, something to chew on, a couple of toys, a book, a sippy cup, extra socks, sunscreen, a burp cloth, and for chrissake, the one cd that will make baby stop crying so I can drive around without going off a bridge.  As I am shoving this mountain of crap into the car, baby has what is affectionately known in parenting circles as a “blow out.” This is when she not only needs a fresh diaper, but a bath and change of clothes; and, if she was tucked under my arm, I do as well.  Particularly big blow outs produce the “Cuba spot,” which is a blast of shit that shoots well out of diaper range–the continental area–to somewhere miles off the coast–like the back of the neck. When you have two kids, you can also have a double blow out, but the second one usually waits until everyone is strapped in and you have already lost your parking space.

Also, some babies cry all night long until you lose your mind. It is very hard to be punctual when all you want to do is pull over and curl up in the trunk for an hour or two. That explains quite a few years of my incoherence, also, though sadly, not the vestiges of it.

In all honesty, my kids are older now, and my excuses run more along the lines of: “Sorry. The neighbor kid came over and ingested poison. There was a little damage control issue.” Or, “Sorry. The rain stopped, so Leila’s soccer practice was no longer canceled but I didn’t have snacks for the team and I was in charge of carpool and then Josie’s musical theatre rehearsal ran a tad late but I couldn’t find the cat and couldn’t reach Lucy’s mother to do the pick up instead.”  That sort of thing. It makes my eyes glaze over to even think about it, so I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear it, either.

In any event, in an attempt to assuage some of my guilt and–hopefully–most of your irritation, here is my friendly request:  PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LIE TO ME ABOUT WHEN I NEED TO SHOW UP.  But whatever you do, DO NOT tell me that you lied, or I will adjust accordingly. Thanks, pal.


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Beret Olsen

Writer, photographer, teacher, and part-time insomniac.

2 thoughts on “Please excuse my tardiness”

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