Time Stopped by
(40 Stories)

Prompted By Time

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Time moves at a uniform pace, if you believe the science. But if you believe your own eyes and brain, you know it moves at variable paces, sometimes fast and sometimes slow, and sometimes, as in the case of my high school math class, time stopped.

Sometimes, as in the case of my high school math class, time stopped.

My watch stopped.  The wall clock stopped.  My head numbed.  I slipped into a no-time dimension, not unlike Pompeii smothered in ash, not unlike life spent inside a zombie sarcophagus.  There was no end to it, just droning sounds emitted on a repeating loop. Droning sounds emitted on a repeating loop.  Droning sounds emitted on a repeating loop.

I learned one thing in that class: how to scrunch into an invisible ball so that my teacher couldn’t see me and wouldn’t call on me, so I could pass eternity in the quietude of my invisibility.

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Here is what I said about myself on the back page of my 2020 humor/drama/politico novel "The Debutante (and the Bomb Factory)" (edited here, for clarity):

"Jonathan Canter Is a retIred attorney; widower; devoted father and grandfather (sounds like my obit); lifelong resident of Greater Boston; graduate of Harvard College (where he was an editor of The Harvard Lampoon); fan of waves and wolves; sporadic writer of dry and sometimes dark humor (see "Lucky Leonardo" (Sourcebooks, 2004), funny to the edge of tears); gamesman (see "A Crapshooter’s Companion"(2019), existential thriller and life manual); and part-time student of various ephemeral things."

The Deb and Lucky are available on Amazon. The Crapshooter is available by request to the author in exchange for a dinner invitation.

Characterizations: been there, funny, right on!, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    WOW! Incredible similes used here Jon…ashes in Pompeii, zombie sarcophagus. What actually happened? Was this an air raid drill? Please tell us? I am curled up there with you too, but when can I come out?

  2. Suzy says:

    Perfect description of being in a boring situation that you can’t leave, whether it’s a class or a meeting or . . . ? For me it wasn’t math class, it was high school biology that I thought would never end.

  3. Marian says:

    Math felt like endless incarceration to me, too, Jon. Wasn’t boring, just too difficult. Couldn’t wait until that bell rang after watching the clock second by second. Great story.

    • Second by second by second…
      It’s never good to get into a watch-the-clock mindset. It’s always better, no matter what the subject matter, to roll w it, to try to be involved w it. I will add, by way of counterpoint, that I had an English teacher who caused the hour to disappear in a flash. Whoosh.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    You describe that graphically! I had a history class that was such torture I figured out how to do “independent study” instead. The problem with my math class was not the sprightly and inspiring teacher or the subject, but it was just before lunch and the last fifteen minutes seemed like hours once my appetite alarm went off.

  5. The big question Jon is did you pass the course?!?

    I confess to doing crossword puzzles during a college Western Civ class taught by a very boring professor. I blame him for the gaps in my knowledge of history – altho I should really blame the crossword puzzles!

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    Can I ever relate to that feeling, especially in my high school math classes.

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