A colleague of mine, Curtis, has the habit of assessing anything that must be sat through recitals, films, inquests by the amount of time lost. "Well, that was two hours of my life I'll never get back," he will typically grumble. (Perhaps you also know a Curtis or others of his ilk, those for whom the height of artistic criticism is the ability to read a wristwatch.)

It's a curious notion, and one that appears to be used only in a pejorative sense as though the time lost were the sole criterion of an event's merit. Yet when considering my own favorite movie, the French classic "Parsnips Amid the Nietzscheans," I recall the boisterous smoking, pouting, and ennui, not the seven irretrievable hours. After all, is not any amount of time, whether spent pleasurably or tediously, time that "I'll never get back"?

Suddenly it occurred to me: Perhaps not -- perhaps the Curtises of the world possess a magical ability to reverse, or at least suspend, time's passage.

The appeal is obvious: taking in a 1:00 matinee, exiting the theater to see that it is still 1:00 this would be a welcome boon, and would go far to explain the behavior of certain bus drivers and appliance deliverymen of my rough acquaintance.

But apparently not all events provide this benefit, and either by an odd coincidence it is precisely those programs Curtis dislikes that lack the feature, or his tastes are biased by the presence or absence of this chronoflexibility (which is a real word, as shown by my having just used it in a sentence).

So if Curtis does possess this special gift, can it be turned on and off? Can its power be harnessed and transferred? If so, there must be more beneficial applications for it than running our office's Midwest Calumny & Bluster department. As an example, look no further than ladies' cosmetics, a market in which fortunes are spent annually on "anti-aging formulas" mostly creams, salves, and grouts to fight wrinkles and crow's feet (euphemistically called "laugh lines.") Hollywood and television comedies are toiling assiduously to prevent the formation of laugh lines, but a true anti-aging product (in the most literal sense of the word) would be panacea to women the world over, and could also have the potential to make Curtis fabulously wealthy. Despite his faults, I would not begrudge him the chance to become a tycoon somewhere far away, if distance rose proportionally with riches.

Inspired by this potential marriage of opportunity and contrivance, I made suggestions along this line to several other colleagues. In short order we were all of a singular mind and purpose, and we rallied together to Curtis's office and defenestrated him forthwith. I predict great things from Curtis in the future, following his recuperation ideas and products that will benefit ladies everywhere, and society at large. We who remain behind bask in quiet satisfaction, knowing we have done our part.