Time is relative. Albert Einstein came to this conclusion more than a hundred years ago.
And just how right he was was demonstrated once again at today’s town meeting in Miss Pattie’s dancing school: Taylor was in top form and let a veritable thunderstorm of incomprehensible regulations, procedural instructions and paragraphs rain down on us helpless participants. Seconds and minutes stretched into infinity.
What it was all about originally, I and probably all the others present had already completely forgotten at this point. Not so Taylor: he babbled, gesticulated, waved papers and documents, occasionally pointed at non-existent flipcharts and from time to time turned so red that I was about to jump up and use the Heimlich on him.
I let my eyes wander. Miss Patty, who presided over the meeting, sat slumped powerlessly in her chair next to Taylor’s catheter, holding her hands clasped in her lap.
In the row in front of me, Babette and Morey appeared to be napping head to head. Gypsy and Andrew sat with their arms folded in front of their chests, scowling into space.
Dean was typing away on his smartphone, Sophie was reading a music magazine, and Zach, who was here today without Lane, was alternately picking his left ear and his right ear, and still would have thought all this was ‚cool‘ if someone had asked him.
Kirk and Lulu were making out and that was probably the best that could be made of this situation. And where were Lorelei and Luke anyway? Those two really had a knack for avoiding the most boring and tenacious gatherings here in the little town.
I glanced at my watch. By the feel of it, it was long past midnight, but no, the hands were at 9:15 pm and Taylor was chattering and chattering and chattering.
Suddenly, someone from outside pushed open the front door. In the opening appeared Rory and her half-sister April Nardini. „Sorry, too late!“ shouted April into the hall. „What did we miss?“
For a few seconds, there was complete silence in the dance school. All eyes were fixed on the two newcomers. Taylor’s words were apparently stuck in his throat; the others, most of whom must have even fallen asleep, had to gather themselves and determine where they actually were.
Miss Patty, however, was the most frightened. As if struck by lightning, she shot up, grabbed the small wooden sessional gavel, and used it to tap Taylor’s catheter several times. „We’re voting now!“ she shouted hammering into the hall.
„Great, we’re all against it!“ rang out Gypsy’s voice. A many-voiced „Right!“ and „She’s right!“ rang through the room. As if on cue, everyone got up and hurriedly left Miss Pattie’s dance school. Zach nodded a mumbled ‚cool‘ goodbye to me. April and Rory shrugged their shoulders and disappeared outside as well.
Finally, only Taylor and I were left. He had watched from the stage as the conventioneers streamed out, motionless and open-mouthed. After regaining his composure, he turned to me: „Mr. Kim, I know you to be a responsible and above all honest citizen who would never fob me off with a lie. Please tell me just one thing:
My heart began to pound. What could it be that Taylor wanted to know from me now? He continued after a small pause, „What exactly did I say that would make everyone here run?“
I breathed a sigh of relief. If time was relative, so was honesty. I would pass this test with distinction, „Exactly? Honestly, I have no idea, Taylor!“
With those words, I too walked out into the warm Stars Hollow spring evening. Time had resumed its normal pace and so after only five minutes I was standing outside the front door to Kim’s Antiques.
As I entered, Mrs. Kim was rattling dishes around in the kitchen. „Hi honey!“ she called across the store in greeting, „that was relatively quick with the gathering today.“
„Relatively? You said it!“, I retorted and closed the door.