Throughout my adult life, I have always been – save in circumstances beyond my control – a very punctual person. Invite me to dinner at 8, and I will be at your door precisely on time. Reciprocally, I always expect people to behave in the same way towards me. However, having lived in Brazil for so long, I was often in awkward situations… which sometimes happen here as well.
I recall being invited to a child’s birthday party in Fortaleza – I believe it was sometime in mid-1995. The invitation read 6 PM, and the party was scheduled to happen in the same building where one of my cousins lived. So I arrived about a half
hour early and went up to my cousin’s for a chat. Around 6:20, I headed
upstairs to the party room (most Brazilian buildings have one) to join the
event. To my surprise, nothing was ready – and I ended up having to help out
with filling balloons.
A few years later, I was performing an afternoon Sunday concert with members of my former Beatle tribute band and a female singer I was dating at the time. Sets at that venue usually ran during the sunset, so people could enjoy the music while also taking in the great views that came with sundown. We had invited a few friends
from college (we went to the same university) and told them what time the show
would start – and they arrived as we played our very final number.
But some friends actually surprised me. By the time I relocated to New York, I had gotten used to people not being as punctual as I am. So a few years back my girlfriend Renata (now wife) and I had a Thanksgiving party in our old Staten Island for friends who did not – like us – have family here. We planned everything for 3 PM, but didn’t expect anyone to be there at the scheduled time. However, an Irish friend was actually on time – and Renata was still in the shower…
Once we invited a Brazilian friend to join us for a wine tasting in Downtown Manhattan. Since I was aware that she was quite bad with
being on time, I told her that the event would begin at around 5:30 (I lied –
it started at 6). We arrived there around 6:30 – and she still managed to get
there after we’d already left.
More recently, we were invited to a barbecue in Astoria, Queens. The scheduled time was 7, but I was adamant not to arrive early, since we had a concert earlier that evening. We were hanging with a Korean friend – who like most Asians, is very punctual. I told him not to worry about it, but he kept telling me we should leave to Queens. We arrived there around 8:30 (we did tell the hosts we’d be considerably late) but there were few people there when we did – things did not get hot until well after 10.
But before you think I am Mr. Punctuality, let me confess one of my own mishaps. Back in Fortaleza, I was supposed to meet my mother for a late lunch on Saturday. I planned to be there around 2, but I met with a bunch of friends at noon and we went for drinks. One thing led to another, and I found myself completely blowing the hour and spending the whole evening bar-hopping from place to place. The next day, I showed up at my mom’s and she said, “You were supposed to be here at 2.” I looked at my watch and said, “Hey, it’s still 1:30!”
Lame, sure — but that is what your 20s are for. But if you have reached a certain age and you are STILL flaky, shame on you!