Kirby: On leap day, leave me alone

By Robert Kirby

Tribune Columnist

Published: February 28, 2012 04:12PM
Updated: February 29, 2012 10:53AM

I didn’t write this column Wednesday. If you’re reading it on Feb. 29, I’m actually doing something else. Wednesday is an extra day on the leap year calendar. And it’s mine.

Neanderthal scientists discovered Feb. 29 roughly 5 million years ago. Leap years occur every four years, except for years that end in double zeros and are not divisible by 400 … uh, forget it.

Let’s not get technical. All you need to know is that Feb. 29 is the exact amount of time left over from synchronizing the Tavaputs Ranch calendar hanging above my desk with the astrological calendar used by witches and the federal government.

Leap year is also referred to as an intercalary or bissextile year. Intercalating refers to the process of assembling the seconds and minutes necessary to create the extra day. I have no idea what that last word means. I’m not going to look it up, either. Sounds painful.

The point is that right now I could be sitting in front of a TV with a bunch of Steve McQueen videos, out in the desert firing off something illegal or corrupting my grandchildren. Since it’s my day, I can do whatever I want with it.

Years ago, I decided that I needed something to look forward to. The other 365 days of every year were subject to the demands of work, church, family, the government and assorted other time sucks. What about me?

In 1992, I reached my limit and decided to carve out a little personal time. Since all of the other days of my life were taxed, regulated and otherwise accounted for, I picked the leftover one. Who would miss one day out of 1,460? It seemed more than fair.

Having one day every four years where you ignore the rest of the world isn’t impossible. I know because I did exactly that every day for the first 18 years of my life. I got the scars and the GPA to prove it.

This time, I warned everybody. For example, when I got hired to write this column, I told the editor Feb. 29 was mine. I wouldn’t show up for work that day no matter what. And never mind trying to call me.

James E. Shelledy: “That isn’t how a professional journalist behaves.”

Me: “You must have me mixed up with somebody else.”

“Whatever I want” is actually a bit of a stretch. It may be my day, but it lasts only 24 hours. I’m smart enough to know that the fallout could last longer. So, there are rules.

Two rules, actually. Both of them made by my wife. I can’t commit a felony, and I can’t chase women. But because both of those rather defeat the idea of being left the hell alone, they’ve never really come up.

So, what do I do on my day? As little as possible. On Feb. 29, 1996, I hauled 2,000 rounds of ammunition, a couple of Mark Twain novels and a lawn chair into the middle of Skull Valley. It set the standard for every other My Day.

In 2000, I watched 22.5 hours of movies, including “Bullit” three times and “The Wild Bunch” twice. In 2004, I slept almost the entire day with a dog.

You should try this. Pick a day and claim it as your own. You don’t have to choose Feb. 29. It could really be any day in a leap year. There are 366 of them. Nobody will miss just one.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/notpatbagley.