Some commonly asked questions about daylight saving time.
Q: Do I have to?
A: No, not at all. Feel free to be an hour early for everything. But when you make a reservation at a restaurant for 7 and say, “By the way, I don’t observe DST,” they will suspect that you also want water without fluoride and will try to pay with “sovereign dollars” you printed at home.
Q: Oh, come on, really? When did we become sheep that set back the clocks because the government said we have to?
A: Have you ever seen a sheep attempt to set a clock? They lack the manual dexterity and give up quite quickly.
Q: What are the origins? I heard it was because schoolchildren had to go farm for the war, or something.
A: That makes no sense. It’s not like farmers didn’t get up at daybreak no matter what the clocks said; the roosters were cawing, the cows needed milking, the fence needed mending and the Back 40 needed plowing. (I like to sling the lingo to let the Greater Minnesota types know we city folk aren’t out of touch.)
Daylight saving time was first proposed by Ben Franklin, who thought it would save on candles; some scholars say his presidential re-election bid was defeated because of dark money from Big Wax and the dreaded Wick Trust. It was first adopted by the Germans, because rising an hour early would give them the element of surprise when they invaded France.
It spread through the United States piecemeal. As late as 1965, Minneapolis and St. Paul made the switch on different dates. (That’s not a joke; you can look it up.) This meant it was possible for someone in Minneapolis to drive to St. Paul and arrive earlier than they left home. People would hop back and forth on the boundary of the two cities to see if they could work up the momentum to travel through time. (OK, that is a joke.)
Q: Can I ask a serious question or are you just going to keep being silly?
A: It’s my column, peon, but by all means, ask away.
Q: Why do we willingly submit to the darkness?
A: It’s a metaphor. Because falling back reminds us of the human condition, forever flawed, groping in the dark, making do with our diminishing rations of light. We suffer it for the promise of spring, when the day lengthens, our spirits quicken and the world renews. But now, in the midst of gathering darkness, we are granted an extra hour.
Pity it comes at 2 in the morning when you’re snoring, leaking head-juice on the pillow, unwilling to do anything with the gift but squander it in sleep. But, like I said, it’s a metaphor.