New project symptom of age

By Bob Huber, Local Columnist

During the Dark Ages of my married life, I bought a prehistoric Volkswagen camper and spent the national debt fixing it up. I named it “The Titanic.”

It had all the necessary gismos for modern camping — a gas stove, electric ice box, a sink, a bed, a radio, a steering wheel, a motor and four tires. The problem was, they all had to be replaced. It was painted rusty red, so I camouflaged it in case our creditors tried to spot us with a rifle scope.

When I towed it home, my wife Marilyn got a familiar glint in her eye. I’d seen it before whenever I had a brainstorm. She beat around the bush to avoid hurting my feelings but finally admitted she’d had enough VWs to last a lifetime, and it would be a frosty day in Hades if I caught her inside one again.

“Global warming aside,” I said, “did I make a mistake?”
“Not if you plead innocent by reason of insanity,” she said.
When I bragged about it to a local college professor, she said, “Ah, ha, the AARP Syndrome. Once you became a typical retired person, you turned into a product of a polychronic lifestyle. You should have been warned.”

“My wife gave me a little warning,” I said.
“It’s the opposite of monochronic,” she went on. “You see, monochronic is a style characterized by doing one thing at a time, which is a linear, anti-existential form so familiar in Western countries. Polychronic, on the other hand, is when you do many things all at once, which produces socio-relationships that are unrelated to schedules.”
“Oh,” I said. “THAT polychronic.”

“Of course, a polychronic existence presupposes that you have definite leanings toward hierarchy, patriarchy, paternalism and Big Mac hamburgers, mixed with a healthy smattering of fatalism.”
“Oh, yes, and that too.”

“I have only one thing to say about your VW camper,” she went on. She glanced over her shoulder as though fearful of being overheard. “Sell the thing and buy an old Buick, preferably one with bad shocks and no muffler. Yes, I think an old Buick would be fine. Get with the program.”
“You have a lot of spare time on your hands, don’t you?” I said.
“I try my best.”
Marilyn asked me later, “What were you bending Dr. Smaltz’s ear about?”
“Just telling her about the van.”
“What did she say?”
“I’m not sure, but I think she liked the camouflage paint job,” I said. “She called it monochromatic.”
“She’s very perceptive,” Marilyn said.

I wanted to tell her more about my stimulating conversation with the professor, but I was afraid she wouldn’t understand all the terminology and might get the idea I was showing off. Instead, I told her we no longer had to worry about the football program at the local college.

“Why is that?” she said.
“They’re a monochronic team,” I said. “Of course, that’s strictly a polychronic view and might not hold up in court.”
And that’s what sunk the Titanic.

Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. Some of his stories are mostly true. He can be contacted at 356-3674 or by e-mail: