Twice a year we pretend we’re going to have a conversation about doing away with daylight saving time. If it actually happens anywhere, it goes like this:
“It’s unnatural. It’s an archaic holdover from our agrarian days, when children were sent to the fields to gather sheaves, but under modern labor laws ... Mffffff!”
He didn’t finish the sentence because someone stuck a sock in his mouth. We don’t want to hear about changing DST because it gives us that wondrous extra hour of daylight on summer evenings to gambol about in the tenebrous glow of endless June.
For those who argue that it’s natural for the sun to set at 7 p.m. in August, I point out that it’s also natural to die from a busted tooth at age 25, but I don’t hear anyone insisting we have to burn all the dentists because they’re sorcerers.
So, fellow DST lovers, consider these fun facts:
1. In the first few years of DST, there was a dispute over whether you could be held legally accountable for anything you did in that first hour after the clocks were set back at 2 a.m. Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled that the legality of an action was not dependent on any temporal constructs. We imagine this exchange:
Justice Frankfurter: “So you’re saying, Herr Einstein, that if a man shoplifts a magazine right before the Big Bang, the action still occurs even if time itself has not begun?”
Einstein: (Untranslatable torrent of exasperated German.)
2. DST was introduced in wartime so the daylight that was saved could be boiled down, sent overseas to our fighting men, reconstituted and used in combat when they needed a few more minutes to see what they were doing. Thanks to citizens sending in all those scrap minutes, D-Day was called “The Longest Day” because it was actually 94 hours long.
3. Children conceived during the “fall back” hour do not appear in mirrors in the “spring forward” hour. Parents always freak out, but then they wait an hour, and figure the mirror was defective or something.
4. Studies show that 67 percent of people claim the “spring forward” made them late for church, but 0 percent show up an hour early in the fall.
So enjoy this longer-than-normal day, because starting now the night will slam shut like a cell door around 4:54 p.m. The dog will whine because he went out to relieve himself and is now anchored to the ground by an icicle. The raw ache of winter will settle in, and we will endure until we shout: “Please, no more. I’d give an hour of my life just for spring to come.”
And the calendar chuckles: “Why, yes. That can be arranged. Just wait.”