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March 13, 2009

What are the sands of time?

March 13. Day 256.

After a dinner of mediocre pseudo-Chinese, this was my cookie's message: Your patience has the ability to test even the sands of time.

"I like my fortune! Check it out!" I told Mr. A. and handed it to him. For once, I had a message that sounded cool. Not "Your tomorrow will be brightened by a new sun" or "Attention should be paid to your health." The sands of time? My patience has abilities? Excellent.

"I want to think it's true," I continued.

"What does it mean?" he asked.

"It means I'm patient. More patient than time. I mean, its sands. Right?"

Suddenly, Doubt tapped Certainty on the shoulder, and when she turned around, he grabbed her by the neck and shoved her down a deep ravine. Or something. Bye bye, Certainty.

The sands of time? What kind of metaphor is that? Sand, as in desert -- time is a vast desert, and my patience will not starve. Shifting, sifting, sinking. Dali.

Or the sands of the beach. Rock in to sand, sand into dust, dust into... dust? If I believe the Bible, rather than that it simply disintegrates or becomes laundry lint somewhere in Cape Town.

I googled the expression "sands of time," but the phrase has been co-opted by a video game.

Time to ask...

"Excuse me," I inquired at the table next to ours. "I just got this fortune and I'm trying to figure it out."

The two girls didn't seem very excited to be interrupted. "It means you're patient," one told me. The other said nothing. "What do you think?" the first asked her companion, who replied with an annoyed look.

"What about the sands part?" I prodded, goaded on by their enthusiasm.

"It's like, what do you call those things?" She pantomimed turning over a-- a--

"An hourglass?" I offered.


"Cool, that makes sense. Thanks! Enjoy your dinner."

I took my query to the streets. On the way to Pinkberry, we spotted a couple that seemed like they were on an early date. You know the type -- best behavior, but not over the top.

"Excuse me. Do you know what this means? It's my fortune, and I can't figure it out." They smiled and looked intrigued when I handed them the slip. People on early dates enjoy diversions like weirdos coming up to them and asking strange questions. It gives them something to laugh about later, after they've slept together for the first time in a cabin in Utah and then run out of gas on the drive home during a blizzard, so they wait for AAA for six hours and start reminiscing. I mean, studies show.

The woman took my prompt and went with it.

"I think the sands of time represent history, like an archeological dig. Some things persist, for years and years, under the sand," she said.

"That's beautiful," I said.

"You should save that fortune. Frame it. Look back at it decades later, once you're married. If your relationship can withstand the sands of time, it can withstand anything," she suggested, as her beau listened, rapt. Mr A and I smiled, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't really talking to us.

Post-Pinkberry, just outside, a man was smoking a cig and staring at the moon. Craving an interruption, naturally.

"Hi. Can I ask you something? Do you have any idea what this means?"

He wove an answer -- archeology, philosophy, deserts and dunes, the earth, the stars -- it eludes me now. But it was perfect.

Gained: A fortune to hold on to.
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