I'll be with you in a second

Tony Glaros

December 31, 1990|By Tony Glaros

WAIT just a dadburn second.

That is exactly how much longer 1990 will be before we kick it upstairs and welcome in '91 tonight. It's a watershed designed exclusively so the New Year's Eve polka maniacs at Blob's Park can soak up the extra time, spinning around the dance floor to the melodious strains of "I Shot the Sheriff" and other witty ditties.

The nonprofit, no-incentive U.S. Department of Commerce, which has its share of clock watchers, reported that at midnight tonight, clocks the world over will log on a second more than usual. The "leap second" will be added at 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 60 seconds coordinated universal time (CUT). The extra second will make today's last minute 61 seconds long, and '91 will begin at 00:00:00, just as it ordinarily does.

The Earth's rotation is only constant to about one-thousandth of a second per day, and our high-tech generation needs something even more precise, the bureaucrats tell us.

Indeed, this is the same government that doesn't flinch when buying $50,000 toilet bowl scrubbers. The same fun bunch that dropped a cozy gathering of 400,000 troops in the Saudi desert, where, according to Islamic law, even thinking about asking that dark-haired beauty on the camel to go see "Ishtar" with you down at the multiplex is punishable by death. The same group that dismissed UFO's as mere swamp gas. I could go on.

So, here is Uncle Sam, bragging over the fact that time, as measured by the Earth's rotation, is not as accurate as atomic clock time. This can lead to a series of catastrophic events like "America's Funniest Home Videos" and "Best of Love Connection" airing one second later than usual.

As far as I'm concerned, getting that extra second is like hitting the lottery. It breathes new energy into my time-worn soul,

makes me thrilled I didn't give my "Johnny Mathis Sings Aerosmith" album to Goodwill.

I guess I could spend the extra time the way I do most New Year's Eves -- vowing never to begin another year staring at Dick Clark, shivering with half of the planet's population just to watch a silly ball drop. (You can do that by tuning in a New England Patriots football game.)

There is a multitude of other things I can do to eat up the clock. I could cross the "T" on my name, which will appear on January's mortgage payment. I might rewind any sporting event where my team lost in the last second. With the time allotted, I could zoom past a highway billboard that begs us to "Stamp Out the Keating Five," or some other effort to control litter. Try reading the fine print on one of those suckers going 85 miles an hour. I could get through the provisions of the United Nations Charter faster.

Given one solitary second, I could change the world. I could discover a cure for the blah feeling you get on New Year's Day. Start a support group to help Madonna lovers beat their addiction. Find a cure for baldness, figure out how to separate the big can of Chun King chow mein from the little can of Chun King chow mein without the use of a blowtorch. Feel a raindrop on roses and taste crisp apple strudel.

Or I could keep tradition alive, echo a formal request across the hills and valleys of my living room on that most titillating of nights: "Slide that bag of cheeseballs down here, will ya', hon?"

Tony Glaros spends seconds in Laurel.

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