I am notoriously late for everything. I am a chronic procrastinator. I am not punctual. I am without a concept of time. It is a problem. And it is all my mother’s fault. That may sound harsh, but sometimes the truth is not easy.
It all began on June 10, 1990, a presumably warm day; a day that will go down in trivia lore as my due date. For some medical reason that I don’t care to know, I remained in utero. Slowly, the calendar turned to 11 and then 12. 12 became 13 and before you knew it, the Summer Solstice, June 21, rolled around. At this point, my mother became sick of me (a recurring theme throughout my childhood) and was induced. Wrap your mind around that – I was born 11 days late. Nearly two full weeks of me just hanging out, mooching off of my pregnant mother, I finally had the medically-induced decency to be born. As I was soon to find out, this would not be the first time that I’d be a little late for something.
My childhood was hodgepodge of me ruining things for my family. It started out small – a couple of times walking into mass during the opening hymn or getting to tee-ball after all the positions had been picked. Now in the grand scheme of things, if this is the only havoc that your kid causes, you’d be ok with that. But young Daniel? He was just getting started.
Tee-ball was kind of a gateway drug with me. Sure it’s no big deal to be the eighth kid in the outfield hoard, but things got steadily worse when I’d eat Oreo’s before dentist’s appointments. I can count on both hands the number of times I made my family late to the dentist because I was frantically scrubbing black shit out of molars I was just going to lose in a few months anyway.
I escaped elementary school unscathed from a tardy perspective. This may or may not be because I live close enough to the school that I can see it from my pillow when I go to sleep. Middle school provided me with some issues as I was introduced to the questionable academic practice that is Early Morning Band. Its origins are murky, but Al-Qaeda has tried to take responsibility. Although the Geneva convention is still looking into it, EMB is band rehearsals that come before school; instead of waking up and catching the bus at 7:40, I had to leave the house an hour early and deal with people who were way to be excited to be making music before the sun was up. Due to the legal implications, I can’t reveal what my mother told me would happen to me if I ever missed a rehearsal, but they’d make a make a sailor blush.
High school was a major breakthrough for me when it came to getting out of being late for things. I have an uncle who lives in the same town as me. His daily commute takes him right past my high school right around the time that I would be arriving, so every holiday, without fail, he would tell me that if I ever missed the bus, he would give me a ride. So one day, I was walking to the main road where my bus stop was, at the same time I always did and lo and behold, the bus drives by. Early. Sonovabitch. So I walk back to my house (pre-cell phone) and call my uncle. When he picked me up he has some deserved snide remarks for me. So what did I tell him? I told him the bus came early. I told my uncle, who was doing me a huge favor, that I was not late, but the bus was early. Internally, I didn’t think it was a big deal as that was what happened.
As high school progressed, they instituted a policy that if a student entered their first period class even a second late they would be sent down to the cafeteria for the duration of the 87 minute period and receive a zero for any class work that day. You, the reader, would probably think this would spell doom for me. Think again. I did many things to be on time for my classes including, but not limited to hanging outside the doorway of my math class so I could orchestrate a screen and slither into my seat, unnoticed.
My biggest regrets in high school, in terms of tardiness, dealt with every prom I ever went to. I went to kind of a lot of proms in high school. Probably too many, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m giving myself a pass for being late to my first one because I couldn’t figure out the stupid clasps on the tuxedo pants. But the next eight that I went to, I should not have been late. If I had a dollar for all the dirty looks that mothers have given me as I try to tuck my shirt in on the way to the door, I could pay off my loans right now. Fortunately, I always just made a remark about no one rolls out of bed looking this good. Needless to say, when I trick a girl into marrying me, I will undoubtedly be late to the chapel. Tuxes and punctuality are not for me, so I was not too upset to see that part of my life be put on hold. As high school concluded, I grew tired of getting out of such meaningless things. I was ready for the big time. I was ready for college.
My college career got off to a rough start. Let me tell you that having mono is no way to endear yourself to your new hallmates. In my quest to maximize my shut eye, I would sleep until the last possible second and then stumble to class in a (prescription) codeine-riddled state. I would come into every class with bedhead and mumble some excuse to the professor as I took the closest seat. But something funny happened: my professors didn’t care. They literally showed no concern as to where I was or why I was interrupting their thrilling lecture on some polarity of water molecules in the atmosphere or some bullshit that I have to pay for to make me a ‘more complete student.’ So as my academic career winds down a mere one more year, I would like to impart some wisdom on the younger readers on how to get out of being late.
1. It is never ever your own fault if you are anything less than twenty minutes late to anything. Fact: unless I really fuck up, I never, ever take full responsibility for my tardiness. I blame anything and everything as to why I’m late.
2. Play dumb. Not really a fan of this one because I’m not dumb, but it works for some people (read: girls and foreigners). Pretend to confuse the time or something, I don’t really know. I pee standing up and speak without an accent.
3. When you blame someone else for you being late, make sure it isn’t someone who would take offense to it. For instance, if my family knew how much I’ve thrown them under the bus, they would probably laugh and just call me a dumbass., so I continue to blame them.
4. Make broad comments that allow for some wiggle room, but can’t really be verified. Late to work? Blame traffic in the other direction and rubberneckers. Maybe a cop pulled someone over and caused traffic to bottleneck?
5. Tailor your excuse to the amount you care about the event you’re missing. Late to a movie with friends? Make a shitty joke and go on your way. Late to a movie with a hot date? Be apologetic with out taking responsibility. Blame everything and everyone. Maybe even let her (or him?) take control of the music in the car, but be careful with this tactic as girls (or same-sex partners) typically like shitty music.
6. Confuse the interrogator. This is one of my personal favorites. It works especially well with mothers and bosses. When I go into work late, I immediately ask my boss a few rapid-fire questions ranging from how his day went to how business has been that day. If you can segue between personal and professional questions, you’re golden because the boss will be unable to stay mad when you’re showing a genuine interest in improving job performance.
7. Be polite. Jay-Z claims that his balls and his word are all he has. I can’t confirm that, but I would like to add that I also have manners. So balls, my word, annnnnd my manners are what I have. Manners going a long way in defusing any potential conflict. This is super important because when you’re late to something it is your fault (you just can’t admit it).
8. The last line of defense. This is when you’re busted and you know it and you can’t do anything about it. This was summed up very well by Dave Chappelle in a skit he did about littering. The premise was that the richer you were, the more inconspicuous you had to be about littering. The skit culminated with a poor crack-head taking trash, pausing, and shooting a jump shot at an invisible trashcan – he was so poor that he couldn’t care less about littering. The last line of defense is to make some outrageously, snide, snarky, sarcastic remark and hope to your deity of choice that the other person also has a sick sense of humor and finds some comedy in your outrageously, snide, snarky, sarcastic remark.
9. Blame the printer. Everyone hates printers. Anyone who doesn’t hate printers has never finished anything at the last minute and needed the printer to just print a few goddamn pages.
So that’s it, folks, almost 1700 words about being late and not one period joke. Who says I’m immature still?