In fifteen minutes, you can get one child ready for bed if the other child, the one who drinks bath water and does the opposite of everything you ask, plays safely and happily in the tub.
You can get the mail, and sort it, and open all of the bills to check out the damage, and put it all on top of the pile on the dining room table, and sigh, and leave it there.
You can cook corn-on-the-cob in fifteen minutes. You can make oatmeal, and forget about it while it’s cooling, and then turn it out of the pan, and it will retain the shape of the pan because it’s basically glue now, not oatmeal, even if you reheat it in the microwave.
If you can’t take a shower in fifteen minutes, what kind of a person are you? It might be easier to get inside the mind of a murderer.
In fifteen minutes, you can read a poem, maybe as many as seven of them if they’re really short, but most short stories, unless they’re really short, will take longer.
Unless you’re old, or young, or out of shape, or really short, you can walk ten blocks in fifteen minutes without undue effort.
No matter how fast you go, fifteen minutes is only enough time to get someplace. It is not long enough to get back.
Fifteen minutes is four or five songs on the radio, or two songs and some commercials, and maybe one more song, or part of one. In fifteen minutes of a sitcom, the central conflict will have been established, as well as any peripheral conflicts, and if the show has artistic ambitions, you will start to notice the thematic threads that link the separate story lines to one another. The tone will still be somewhat light, but if the show has artistic ambitions you will begin to detect faint notes of pathos. If the show does not have artistic ambitions, this is when the show’s central character will appear with his or her arm sunk up to the elbow in a bee’s nest.
You can make sweet love with three different people for an average of five minutes each, if they’re close to hand. And each of those people, while not making sweet love with you, can make sweet love with two completely different people, and each of those with two more and so on, sweet love sweeping through the streets. If you are all very young and uninhibited, that is, and for no more than fifteen minutes total, though that will not give you time to clean up. Please do clean up.
In fifteen minutes you can turn into a different person, or realize that you were never the person you thought you were.
You can get into trouble in fifteen minutes. Enough to have to spend the weekend in jail. Low enough in trouble to take you years, even decades to climb out.
And in that that same amount of time you might be able to keep someone else away from trouble, even save them from days, weeks, years getting out of it. Giving someone the right directions when they ask. Maybe even giving them the wrong ones.
In fifteen minutes you can wander through your house. You can enter one familiar room after another, with no memory of what you set out looking for, though you know you are looking for something, pantomiming thought with your eyes and hands, or even speaking it aloud. “Now what was I thinking about?”
If you manage to remember, fifteen won’t be enough minutes to find it.
Have you noticed that whenever you think you can feel the end coming, whether in a movie, or a meeting, or a drive or a talk or a fight, it turns out to be fifteen minutes further along than you thought?
Whether the world was made in seven days, or five billion years, or was delivered over countless eons on the back of a giant tortoise, down the stretch it will take an extra fifteen minutes to be over, you can bet on that.