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Time and time again (03/18/2007)
By Frances Edstrom

Time, time, time, time. Everything's either about time, or that we don't have enough time.

You have to wonder how man ever got himself enslaved to the clock. I can admire the inclination of early man to notice that certain natural phenomena occurred at predictable intervals. The moon, the tides, the seasons, daylight " they all cry out for clocks and calendars. But when did they take over our lives?

Well, they take over some people's lives.

I've told this story a thousand times, because it was a seminal experience in my then-young life. I had been invited for the first time to spend a weekend with John's family, my future in-laws, but I didn't know that then. It was Sunday morning, and I got up early, because I was aware that John's dad, Harold, directed the First Congregational Church choir, in which the whole family sang.

But the scene wasn't exactly what I would have expected in a large family that was preparing for church. Oh, well, I thought, I'm Catholic, maybe this is some Protestant day off from church, so I just cooled my jets. Someone was practicing the piano, a couple people were reading the paper and drinking coffee in the kitchen. The cat was trying to put a hole in my nylons.

Then, all of a sudden, someone said something like, "Oh, my! Look at the time!" and the leisurely scene turned instantly to one of complete pandemonium. I quickly completed my preparations and stationed myself near the back door, which they all had to use to get to the car. In a remarkably short period of time, they all appeared in Sunday finest, ran out of the house, and sped off to church, which, this being Winona, was about a minute and a half away. The car screeched to a halt outside the church, where it parked in a spot that didn't seem legal to me, and rushed into the church. Family members ran to their spots in the choir loft, where the other members of the choir were already seated, waiting. Harold walked to the front, raised his arm, and they began singing.

I soon found this was not an isolated incident of showing up late, but the Edstrom modus operandi. As Harold often said, "You know how people hate it when you show up early!" But, I thought, there is a third option, called being on time. Forget it. That was not a phrase in the Edstrom lexicon.

I've been following the WSU basketball team's phenomenal success. I was there Tuesday night when they beat Mankato for the championship and a ticket to the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass.

Fans of the team will tell you how exhilarating, as well as harrowing, it is to watch this team. We sit in the gym, packed like purple sardines in a tin, feeling the energy of the crowd willing the team to win. They're the best, right? Record for unbeaten streak, right? Winningest coach, right? So why are they behind ever, at all? Are they doing this on purpose " toying with the other team, and us (!) their loyal fans? Don't they know how hard this is on us?

On Tuesday night, it was especially nerve-wracking. But then, in the second half, with the clock showing thirteen minutes left in the half, there was a shift in momentum so real it almost seemed as though the gym floor had moved beneath us. The Warriors, who never show desperation or self-doubt, radiated a subtle confidence at the same time that the Mavericks, seeded number two and certainly a formidable presence, lost a step.

The Warriors didn't break away, but they never trailed again. The crowd knew they would get a win. The athletic department crowd control personnel readied for whatever would happen, even though there was a lot of time left on the clock.

Time was on our side. The Warriors controlled the clock. We had a great time. What time is the next game? Think we'll be national champs again this time? 


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