Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee: Longer, blessed days

I stopped participating in daylight saving about five years ago, but not like Arizona and other rebellious states that refuse to change time twice a year. Simply, there are no clocks in my daily life that require manual adjustment, so my cell phone, computer and other time-displaying devices remember to fall back and spring forward for me.

This automated convenience doesn’t spare me from our ritualistic grief over the time change, or the injustice we feel when 60 minutes are stolen from us by God, the government or whatever time-bender is messing with our circadian rhythms. I don’t like waking up an hour earlier than I’m used to, but 9 p.m. daylight is one of my favorite parts of life, and so, overall, I appreciate the onset of later sunsets.

I’m mostly astonished daylight saving endures despite hostility toward the time change pushing it past April 15 as the most despised day of spring. By now, most folks knows it’s a rural legend that this is all done for the benefit of farmers or to save money on light bulbs, and so we go through this inexplicable protocol knowing it’s pointless (at least Groundhog Day is non-binding).

It would seem that a bill to eliminate one of the most hated rituals in our democracy could be introduced today and passed tomorrow, but our groggy outrage blooms as annually as dogwoods and pear trees. States can request an exemption from the guidelines that are enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation, making daylight saving an uninspiring interpretation of time travel.

I’d volunteer to lead the siege on the Gold Dome or feds to end this silliness, but I’m already engaged in longterm resistance against another mindless cultural norm. It’s a struggle even more inane than the woe we express over daylight saving, but the custom taints my second-favorite bodily convulsion.

I hate when people say, “Bless you” after I sneeze, and I resent my obligation to interrupt the redistribution of energy occurring in and around the body that contains my soul in order to say, “Thank you.” I despise this exchange so much that I am content enduring the awkward, crushing silence created by the absence of, “Bless you” after someone in my presence sneezes.

I know my stance comes across as rude, if not soulless, but the entire exchange is too profoundly unnecessary for me to play whichever role I’m conscripted into. We know that demons surrounding us after a sneeze is as ridiculous as setting our clocks ahead so Iowan children can pick corn on their way to school, but these charades are perpetual.

No one thinks of demons when they say, “Bless you,” but nor is anyone thinking of anything else; it is an empty gesture that is emptily received, for rarely has anyone appreciated a post-sneeze blessing or felt vulnerable without one. Presuming there is some positive energy conveyed in, “Bless you,” it’s still misdirected because there is nothing about sneezing I consider negative.

As reflexive actions that culminate with forceful expulsions, I’ve always enjoyed sneezes as low-grade orgasms, and I’m disappointed if I don’t get off at least two without someone dowsing me with blessings. Sometimes I use my teeth to pluck hairs from my mustache in order to trigger a sneeze, essentially inducing socially acceptable ejaculation.

Think about that before you barge into someone’s semi-autonomous reaction, and maybe you’ll decide this ain’t your clock to set.