in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked

Saturday, March 15, 2008

‘Tis the Season (to talk timing)

Wedged as we are between Fashion Week and the Comedy Festival, I thought it might be the perfect time to talk timing. In fashion, there’s a time and place for everything – just not here, not now… please? The teased victims of faux pas should understand and take comfort, it’s never an objection to butt floss or loon pants per se, just context and placement. If you want to be in fashion, all you really need are deep pockets, a huge closet, and… a perfect sense of timing. Same goes for comedy – Ross Noble can use the repetition of the word ‘satchel’ to get the audience in stitches, but you just try re-telling one of his ‘jokes’ to someone. Or remember Eddie Murphy’s joke about people fucking up his jokes while trying to re-tell them… whoops…

It’s the incubator on the egg, the fruit on the vine: the moment of ripeness is only reached for the briefest sweetness. Sit too long on that egg and the chick is a chucker; wait too long for that banana and you’ll be on the receiving end of a mushy mess. I have a friend who takes too long: the magic prize has always passed to other hands by the time he finally plucks up the determination to reach whatever it is (whoever she was). By that stage, she already really, really values him ‘as a friend’. I often wonder if it’s a species thing – among the giant turtles of the Galapagos, he’d probably be considered rash and o’er hasty. I have a friend who leaves the fun too early and never hears the silly giggled confessions that keep the friendly glue stuck fast – and then he wonders why he feels alienated. I have a tendency to linger longer than anyone sensibly should, past the tipping point: and I get shot down by drunkenness and left to drag my sorry self home in a way I can’t afford. But at the same time, I have an undiminishing hatred of encores…

Try this, all you would-be genii out there. Whatever it is, whenever it is, start before you feel ‘ready’, and finish or leave before you’ve ‘had enough’. It’s a toughie, and it goes against your beast, that slow and speeding part of you that demands satisfaction (but can’t get none) no matter how long or how much it takes, while in actual fact, by the time you start to feel full, you’ve always already had too much… no doubt you know this from the bitter fact of experience, but you probably need reminding. Almost everybody does.

There are a few proven ways to do overcome your beast. In the East, Zen calligraphy masters do it with stillness and speed. They meditate in front of the blank paper for days until it hits, then they finish the character in a Mcflurried second of strokes. In the West, we’ve developed the rhythm method, but unfortunately it’s notoriously unreliable – as James Brown’s calls of ‘I got ya’ demonstrate. You gots to have muscle memory, Mary. Another friend of mine’s tactic is all about dry-humping the pant leg of your giggle repeat button. Because we’re slow, or just because we may not have heard it right the first time, he tells the same anecdote twice, word-for-word. Somehow, it works for him, but…no, I don’t suggest that. There’s simpler ones, too, so maybe try these (for a change or a start). Sit still. Shut up (and listen). Practice. Rush in. Then get the fuck out of there. Before it’s too late…

We always hesitate, then linger. I can only imagine how puzzling we are to the sloths and otters, with our jets and credit cards and cameras. No other animal has such a skill for racing ahead of itself while simultaneously dragging its heels in everything it does. That’s why we’re so in awe of the most seemingly talented people. More than anything, they’ve just got better timing than you and I. Maybe genius is just good timing. And deep pockets. And a huge closet.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen to that. Timing AND deep pockets (AND long arms, not short). Can't help feeling that I'm definitely one of the friends mentioned and possibly a second or all three. So yeah, on reflection whenever I've started something before I've been ready and got out before I'd 'had a gut-full' its always been great. aL.

Jessie said...

haha- good post. I definitely got there long after I was "ready" on saturday night, and left long, long after i'd "had enough". But then, I don't do that often, or often enough!

Jimmy said...

I'm also worried I'm in there...

Jimmy said...

I'm also worried I'm in there...


The Author

[almost nothing] about me

My photo
PC is an animal of the antipodes believed to be related to a gibbon.