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Russell Wangersky: Washing the days away

Ask not for whom the yogurt tolls. It tolls for thee.
Ask not for whom the yogurt tolls. It tolls for thee. - Contributed

It’s the yogurt that’s got me down. Way down.

Today, it was Greek-style yogurt, fruit on the bottom, raspberry-pomegranate. Delicious, actually, the last spoonful the absolute taste-equivalent of the colour red, but that’s not the problem.

Deb in the newsroom says that there’s too much sugar in the little tubs of yogurt, but that’s not the problem, either.

No, the problem is the foil top.

And the “best-before” date.

Not because it’s spoiled or past-dated, but because the date on top is coming.

I might not be explaining right.

The “best-before” date is Oct. 31. Halloween. And the problem is that I have so many things to get done before then, and the point is clearly being made that there is only as much time to get them done as there is for yogurt to go bad. Not only so much to get done, but so little time: the end of this month is mere yogurts away, and the end of next month?

It will be on the yogurt tops before you know it.

I feel I little bit like the world is presently a constant state of “just let me get these few things done and I’ll have a minute to catch my breath.”

But I don’t catch my breath: every time I’m done the things that are right straight out in front of me, there’s a new crowd of urgent things, and time is shooting by so fast that summer has folded straight into fall, and I saw snow today, so winter’s almost here and then there’s that dragging mess we call spring, and before I know it, the year will have whipped around like the time-travel clock in a campy 1970s science-fiction movie.

Once again, the date-stamp atop my yogurt will be Halloween, 2019. Or later. It just won’t stop rushing me.

How can it be that, by the time you realize how valuable time is, that same time has decided to move like the wind? The fish will be stale by Wednesday, the porkchops by the 25th, and in the forgotten recesses of the kitchen cabinets, something is bound to have already been overtaken by whole years.

I used to make fun of going to someone’s house and finding a years-old stale-dated jar of some oddment like maraschino cherries or seafood sauce. Now, I sometimes trip over just that kind of thing in my own cupboard — and it’s not my fault. I mean, if time hadn’t sped up so much, I’m sure I would have found a use for canned red lentils before the spoilage date rushed right in and ruled them out. Who knows what’s in that can now, and what subtle diseases it might cure?

If you’re young enough, this will make no sense to you. The winter will loom ahead like it will never end, and the idea of planning for something a year down the road will seem as far away as climbing a mountain top in the Rockies. But for me and scores of other people, time has gone wild — it’s in a race whereas once it used to plod.

I woke up one morning, and children were teenagers. The next day, they were adults. Tomorrow, the yogurt-tops will be threatening them, too.

Oh, yogurts. I don’t need your passive-aggressive reminders. Deb in the newsroom might think that you’re mighty sweet, but I don’t find you sweet at all. I know the horrible truth of your message.

Time and tide and best-before dates wait for no one, and you don’t have to rub it in every single morning. Stop your curdled milky fruit-based torment.

Ask not for whom the yogurt tolls. It tolls for thee.

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at — Twitter: @wangersky.

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