Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
I was just about to merge from one busy highway to another when I happened to glance down and notice the odometer. It read 123,454.8.
There was no chance to pull over and collect myself in the next 1.9 miles. I had one chance at this, and I knew I had to act! I fished out my camera from my front pocket – where it always is – switched it to video mode and began the process of capturing the moment. You know, the “moment.” The moment when the odometer rolls over to 123,456.7 miles. Such an opportunity wouldn’t come around for another 110,000 or so miles, and who knows if I or my truck will still be around then. It was the MOMENT!
To say that I nearly died shooting this video would be a bit dramatic, but I can assure you I was hardly the poster child for the nondistracted driving movement. I had to fiddle with the camera quite a bit – I did a test shot that was too dark, so I had to change the aperture settings, then I had to reach over to roll up the (nonpower) window so you could hear my witty and relevant narration that went along with the “moment.” And it had to happen quick quick quick! The odometer spins fast when you’re going 70 mph, and all the while I was merging, during rush hour, and … hey, now that I think about it, I was headed for 123,456.7 while doing 70, in six lanes, at 5 o’clock, at age 43. That’s 76543! And my actions at the time were in keeping with someone having an IQ of about 21. YES!
Whew: That’s good stuff.
Well, good stuff for me, anyway. I remember back in 1978 when I saw a little newspaper clipping about the upcoming event – at 12:34 on May 6, the story read, it would be 12:34, 5/6/78. That was the first time such a thing occurred to me, but it occurred to me in a big way. Well, as big a way as something can occur to a 12-year-old. I thought, “neat,” then went back to catching frogs, or whatever. But it apparently stuck with me, because here I am, giddy as a kid on Christmas morning about this week’s big happening. This Friday, Nov. 11, at 11:11 a.m it’ll be … do I even have to finish this sentence?
I’ve been practicing – training, even – for this moment for years. Sept. 9, 2009, at 9:09 comes to mind; 2010 was a pretty good year; there was Jan. 10 at 10:10 and then Aug. 9 at 11:12. And in the beginning of this year there were some good opportunities to warm up – Jan. 1, Jan. 11: Each of those days found me at the exact same place at 11:11 – a.m. and p.m. – and that’s the same place I’ll be this Friday at 11:11.
And where is that? Atop Mount Fuji, perhaps? Stonehenge, maybe? Nah: nothing so predictable. I’ll be right where I’m supposed to be – in front of my computer, taking a picture of myself.
But not JUST a picture of myself. Oh no. It’ll be a computer screen shot, with the date and time in the upper corner. And I’ll be holding my cell phone, so you can see for sure that the time is valid … so you’ll know I was there. AND the shutter must be released at EXACTLY 11 seconds past the minute, or else what’s the point, right? So even though I get two shots at it, morning and evening, there’s some pressure. I’ll most likely even set up a video camera to capture the whole picture-taking process. And … and … well, it’ll pretty much be the highlight of my getting-excited-about-sequential-dates/times/numbers life. Unless I live another hundred years. Or figure out how to time travel back to 1234 AD.
I wish my obsession with numbers were a bit more practical. Life could have been so much different if, back in 5/6/78, I’d decided to pursue my fascination with numbers and developed some lucrative use for it – like learning to count cards, or predict lottery numbers, or spot stock trends, or … well, anything, really. But here I am 33 years later, thinking the exact same thing that I thought back then …
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A faithful reader, known to his internet friends as “Ski Bum,” sent me the following quote after my last column. It seems fitting this week.