Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Lately I have happened upon the advantage of timers. I go to a 12-step meeting that has discovered the best way to stop people from being windbags is to give them a limited number of minutes to talk. Three minutes seems to be the norm, after which the timer begins to beep and the speaker has a few extra seconds to wind things up.

It's wonderful! No more endless shares about ungrateful daughters, dyslexic parents or abusive siblings. Three minutes! Ding! Next! And so I am considering using a timer for everything. Because the truth is that any action performed for more than three minutes--with the possible exception of running a marathon or playing putt putt golf--is excessive. No one should be made to stand in line for more than three minutes, and have you ever seen someone speak for that length of time without repetition or saying "you know?" at least 87 times. Eating for three minutes and then stopping will undoubtedly be good for your health. Boxing rounds are three minutes. Good pop songs are less than three minutes, as are all six-word novels (go to for examples.)

A timer guarantees that everyone who wants a say has one; it is the ultimate equalizer. Should there be a sizable contingent that needs more than three minutes, let those people form speakers' clubs where they can practice their oratorical skills and bore each other to death.

And it works for sex, too. After three minutes, you should stop whatever it is you're doing with your partner, compliment him/her on their lovemaking, maybe brew an espresso, eat a lo-cal cookie, take a breather. Talk about the weather, the kids, tomorrow's dinner plans. Then resume.

Ding! OK. Time's up.

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