Los Angeles Times

Carnett: Time zones give the gift of gab

My wife, Hedy, enjoys spending time on the East Coast.

She likes going there for reasons other than what you might expect.

Her paramount motive is of course to see our daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren, who've been East Coast residents for nine years. Visiting them several times a year is a treat.

But, the grandchildren notwithstanding, Hedy has another more — shall we say — disquieting motive for making trips to the Eastern Seaboard. (By the way, have you ever heard the term Western Seaboard? Me neither. It seems an obvious inconsistency.)

Hedy's not drawn to the East Coast for its insufferable summer heat, or its five-month-long hurricane season, or its overabundance of inauthentic Mexican restaurants.

No sir.

Her attraction to the East Coast derives specifically from its position on Planet Earth — its longitude. More specifically, its time zone.

You see, EST (Eastern Standard Time) has become her OBF (Optimal time to Blab with Friends).

As it turns out, Hedy's a bit of a night owl. She likes to go to bed late and arise at a civilized hour, like 9 a.m. or so. I, on the other hand, go to bed early and climb out of the rack before dawn.

She loves chatting on the phone with friends and relatives late into an evening. The East Coast provides the perfect setting for such a diversion. You probably see where I'm going with this.

On the East Coast she can indulge her penchant for late-night conversations. She rings up her California friends three hours later than she would at home and talks until the wee hours of ante meridiem (a.m.). Yet, she doesn't keep anyone up late. It's a win-win!

The other night at our daughter's home in North Carolina, I shambled from bedroom to kitchen at 12:15 a.m. seeking a bottle of water. I'd already been asleep for hours, had several adventure-filled Technicolor dreams and awakened once snoring.

There she was — perky as you please — lounging on the living room sofa, cell phone in hand, in full chitchat mode, conversing with a friend in the Golden State.

"Wha the...?" was my initial bleary-eyed reaction as I glanced at my watch. "Who's she talking to at this ungodly hour? If it's not 911, then she's certifiably cray-cray!" (That's my pre-pubescent granddaughter's expression for "crazy.")

Then I realized what was happening. She's talking to California, where it's 9:15 p.m.

In a couple of hours she can reach out to Hawaii and then, at dawn maybe, Melbourne. Her possibilities for late-night yak-yak are breathtaking.


Mother May I Be Charming

While on the recent North Carolina sojourn I had an opportunity to assess our 7-year-old granddaughter's charm quotient. It was an eye opener.

Though appearing cute as a bug to her grandfather, I had no hint that young boys of her generation might think her sweet as well.

One afternoon she and I attended her 14-year-old brother's soccer game. Her brother's team won, 3-1, and he had two assists, but that's not the focus of this report.

While I was on the sideline watching the game, Eva, who plays the sport herself but is indifferent to viewing big brother's games, was playing with a group of four or five newly acquired friends in a grassy area behind me.

A few minutes into the soccer match I glanced back to see what the kids were up to. They were engaged in a lively game of Mother May I?

I noticed that a 7-year-old boy — who was obviously enthralled by my granddaughter's magnetism — had assumed the role of "Mother."

I watched as Mother barked out his first directive.

"Annie," he said, "you may take two baby steps forward."

"Gee, thanks," was Annie's cynical response. "Mother may I?"

Mother was not pleased.

"No you may not," he shot back, and Annie remained glued to her original spot.

"Eva," he continued, "you may take 19 giant steps forward."

"Mother may I?" she cooed.

"Yes you may, my lady," he said, the early buds of a chivalrous manner shining through.

Life is good when you're cray-cray cute!

JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Wednesdays.

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