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In life it's all about timing - Greg Gelpi

Life is all about timing, and I need a watch.

That little lesson tugged at me like the sentiments of an after school special during my recent vacation to the town of my college alma mater.

Wrapped neatly in an interwoven garment of one-liners, comic relief, foreshadowing and imagery, my quick sojourn unfolded in much a similar fashion and instilled much the same kernel of life's wisdom.

Crashing with my old roommates, somehow they convinced me to join them as they trained for a triathlon, which made way for a sultry, steamy Natchitoches afternoon at the swimming pool for a few laps.

Enter stage right two attractive women in bikinis, which for a guy like me with enough neuroses to satisfy a lifetime of couch visits to the local shrink meant that it was time to dip back into my shell and revert to my normally shy self.

Much to my surprise one knew me, we chit chatted a bit and they actually asked me out. I need not list the reasons why this fell just shy of a miracle. Playing it cool in the Louisiana sun, I said that I "might" take them up on their offer and catch them at the local pub later.

Scarfing down a dinner of marinated pork tenderloin with homemade barbecue sauce on homemade bread that my friends began cooking the day before, I antsily hurried us out the door to the pub.

Scanning the crowd of the overfilled room, we saw neither one and realized that we were too late.

Too late, too much, too often. Like a resounding gong from the bell tower of life always reminding me of my should-have-beens and could-have-beens.

That sound echoed in my head along with the shrill buzzing and chinking of coins permeating the casino we visited a few days later during the trip.

Paranoid of breaking some unwritten golden rule of casinos, I tend to shy away from the table games and drift toward the mundane button-pushing of the one-armed bandits.

Buying into the notion that you need to spend money to make money, I invested my deposit in the slot machines and awaited my potential returns.

Hitting it big on the nickel slots my winnings grew to a whopping 25 bucks as I cashed out, yet continued on.

With no concept of life's clock, I trudged on and tried my luck with the big money machines n the quarter slots. But, to no avail.

I played back my mountains of winnings and even contributed a few bucks to the casino. Walking past a wall coated in $100 bills totaling $1 million put me in the giving mood.

Time continued not to be on my side on my return trip, enveloped in the midst of flashes of lighting, sweeping winds and moments of hydroplaning on the back roads of Alabama.

Timing has never been my strong suit, and it continues to nag at me as I notice the time on the computer as I type this column. Until next week?

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.