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The Dating Game

I have a dating problem.

It wasn't always this way.
Before I left America, I was totally confident in my dating techniques.

However, those days are gone. 
In Japan, dates confuse me.
And with each new country I visit, my confusion grows deeper. 
I've reached the point where I dread dating.
The worst part is that other people have noticed.
Sometimes, they will openly mock me with remarks like, "Where'd you learn how to date? America?"

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Then they laugh the haughty laugh of the person who knows how to date.

I turned to my wife for help, but she refused.
It turns out she has the same problem.

Now I'm going public. 
I call this affliction 'Calendar Dyslexia' - the inability to write dates in the correct order.
In America, I was raised to write the month, then the date, and then the year.
So, July 4th, 1976 would be written as 07/04/76, always and forever.
Or so I thought.
But it appears that the format of Julius Caesar's favorite calendar isn't set in stone.
Like the 'real' definition of democracy, the best ingredients of a pizza, or the pronunciation of the word 'probably', there is a lack of international agreement on the correct way to render any given date.
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Is it month, date, and year?
Or is it date, month, and year?
Or does the year come first?

Hence, my confusionů
Therefore, I have tried to hide my problem.
When I add my signature to a document, I copy the format that the person above me used.
Or, if there's enough space, I just write out the whole date - July 4th, 1976.

But forms are my mortal enemy.
Forms force me to assign numbers to boxes - xx/xx/xx - in a version of Julian roulette.
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The result of this is, of course, frustration and embarrassment.

For example, a member of the local management team came to me last week holding a form that was entirely in Japanese. I had filled out my personal information on that form. He stood there struggling, unsuccessfully, to suppress his giggles and asked if I was really born in 1925.

Oops. Looks like I got the right numbers in the wrong boxes. Again.
So I looked at him and said, "Yes. 1925. And I'm a little upset that headquarters hasn't sent me my retirement package yet. Would you mind looking into that for me?"
Sometimes I use sarcasm as a defense mechanism.

Fortunately, there's a little bit of relief on the way.
This New Year's day marks the first time in 88 years that it will be impossible to screw up the dating game.
That's right, in every single country that uses the Julian calendar, you'll be able to write "01/01/01".
And for the following 11 years, there will be one day each year that allows us that same peace of mind.
It may not seem like much, but I will not waste this opportunity. I plan to enter a country that day, just so I can fill out the visa paperwork without fear.
In fact, we should declare a new floating holiday.
We can call it - Expat's Day!

GH 09/00
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