The following exchange, or something like it, takes place around mile 200 of a 300-ish mile road trip. The husband is getting well and truly loopy and spending long stretches of rolling-hills highway venturing into the dark spaces in his brain.
The kids are napping in the backseat. It has been quiet for some time. He has had time to think and to zone out in the monotonous ebb and flow of interstate traffic.
They have just crossed several state lines in the space of less than an hour. (I-24 is weird.)
The conversation is fictional, and is not in any way related to actual conversations ever had between any husband and wife ever.
Please to enjoy.
Husband: Anybody hungry?
Wife: I don’t know. I think the kids are okay.
Husband: I could go for something. Not sure what. What time is it?
Husband: Local or home?
Wife: We agreed we were staying on Georgia time for the trip.
Husband: I just get confused. Every clock I see is on Central. Your phone switched over and you didn’t even want it to. The only thing I trust is my watch.
Wife: So why are you asking me?
Husband: (several miles pass in silence.)
Husband: (finally can’t stand the silence anymore) Know what I just realized? Suppose you lived in the right place — say right here by the state line. Suppose further that you wake up with a craving for a chicken biscuit and some hash browns, as one does.
Wife: (totally uninterested) Uh-huh.
Husband: And you get up and dress yourself, you know, go through the trouble of preparing yourself to go out into the world, and in you go. And you get to the counter and say, “I’d like a chicken biscuit and some hash browns, please.” And the kid at the counter tells you, “oh, sorry, man, we stopped serving breakfast at 10:30.” And you realize it’s 10:45 and going through the trouble of getting up to go out in the world is what made you late.
Wife: So you shouldn’t have gotten dressed?
Husband: What? No. Of course you got dressed. I’m not advocating nudism, here. Stay with me.
Wife: I’ll try.
Husband: You could kick and scream and throw a fit and demand to see the manager. Or you could, by dint of your geographical location, hop in your car, drive a stitch down the road in a westerly direction to the next fine fast-food establishment, and be there in plenty of time for your breakfast.
Husband: Because time zones.
Husband: Isn’t that interesting?
Wife: Why didn’t you just go to the one that’s an hour behind to begin with?
Husband: Because, I dunno. You prefer the first one.
Wife: But it’s the same restaurant, right?
Husband: Well, yeah.
Wife: So what’s the difference?
Husband: It’s like Publix and Kroger. They sell the same things, but you prefer to go to Publix, why?
Wife: Because it’s a superior shopping experience.
Husband: Even though it’s more expensive.
Wife: It’s not just about the money.
Husband: And it’s not just about what’s on the menu.
Wife: So … you’re going to a Kroger when you would rather be going to a Publix?
Husband: More like you’re going to a slightly less-nice Kroger instead of the Kroger you wanted to go to.
Wife: Because of the time zones.
Wife: And you didn’t check the time before you left the house, because …?
Husband: Because you weren’t thinking about it. You just wanted to get your biscuit and figured you were in time for breakfast.
Wife: Well, that’s where you made your first mistake, isn’t it?
Husband: Right, sure, but we’re getting off the point, here. The point is that if you made this mistake — for whatever reason — you could rectify it by crossing the state line and, in effect, going back in time.
Husband: I just think that’s interesting.
Husband: Because it’s arbitrary, you know? Oh, because we decided there’s an imaginary line right here that marks a boundary between this state and that one, we’re also going to say it’s a totally different time on the other side of the line?
Wife: (making a concerted effort, by now, not to engage, stays silent.)
Husband: It’s just weird, is what I’m saying.
Wife: You know, McDonald’s has breakfast 24 hours a day. You could just go there.
Husband: But I don’t like McDonald’s.
Wife: Or you could make your own hash browns.
Husband: Let’s go ahead and assume for the sake of the exercise that if I wanted to make my own hash browns, I wouldn’t be going to a fast-food joint to begin with.
Wife: But after you waste all this time driving back and forth from one place to the other, you could easily have made all the hash browns you wanted.
Husband: Right, but that’s not the point.
Wife: So the point is you want to be lazy enough to sleep in until the last minute, fail to notice the time on your watch, or your phone, or on your car’s dashboard, or anywhere else, miss the cutoff for breakfast at restaurant A, but still have time to cross state lines to be in time for breakfast at restaurant B?
Husband: Well … I’m not saying I want to. I’m just saying you could.
Wife: (takes a long pause.) We can stop for breakfast, if you want.
Husband: CAN WE, THOUGH?
Wife: There’s a McDonald’s at the next exit.
Husband: Yeah, I guess I’m not that hungry.