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Leap Year conundrum: What should I do with all this extra time?

Leap Year conundrum: What should I do with all this extra time?

Posted: Friday, March 2, 2012 8:01 pm

Leap Year conundrum: What should I do with all this extra time? | David Critchlow Jr., Just A Thought

I’m having a bissextile year.
Before you get too judgmental, so are you.
I’ll have to admit, the first time I was told this, I got on the defensive very quickly. “Not me,” I said. “I’m as straight as straight can be.”
Even though I spend my days juggling the written word, I was showing my ignorance of the English language with my response.
A quick online check of the word “bissextile” would have revealed its definition: 1. Of or relating to a Leap Year. 2. Of or relating to the extra day falling in a Leap Year. 3. A Leap Year.
So what is Leap Year anyway? According to the website Leap Year 101, this is a Leap Year, which means it has 366 days instead of the usual 365 days that an ordinary year has. A 29th day is added to February every four years so the regular calendar will sync properly with the solar calendar.
If you don’t like it, blame the Egyptians, who came up with the extra day every four years. If you don’t like that it’s in February, blame the Romans, who made that decision. I’ll have to admit, it would be nice if that extra day had been in June instead of February, but no one asked me.
I’m guessing those born on Feb. 29 are the first to complain — having to observe their birthdays on Feb. 28th or March 1st almost every year while listening to smart alecks who tell them they won’t get presents the other 75 percent of the time because it’s not really their birthday.
Later on, I’m sure they get the last laugh when their so-called friends are turning 40, 50 and older and “Leapers” are still decades away from being that old (according to their solar calendar). I can think of a few women who might like to take advantage of that approach to the aging process, which is only an option for “Leaplings,” as they are sometimes called.
A little research revealed an interesting tradition that coincides with Leap Year, which gives women the “privilege” of proposing to men instead of the other way around on Leap Day. If I had waited around for someone to take advantage of that “privilege” — which I sense would be a fairly remote possibility in the first place — I’m pretty sure that date would have passed again this year without such a proposal.
Denmark takes it a step further. If a man refuses a woman’s proposal on Leap Day, she must be compensated with 12 pairs of gloves. I’m guessing there are a lot of unattractive women who own glove shops.
On a brighter note, I did get invited to the Sadie Hawkins Dance 30-plus years ago by a very attractive high school classmate, but I don’t think that counts as a Leap Year phenomenon. For some reason, she never asked me out again — not even four years later. Maybe some lunar calendar influenced that decision.
A few weeks after our date, I asked her if she thought about asking me out again. Borrowing a line from legendary musician Jimmy Buffett, she said, “If the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me.” I’ve pondered that response a lot over the years as the phone remained silent.
Some people are able to take advantage of Leap Year. For example, presidential hopefuls get an extra day to bombard us with their catch-phrase messages of a better tomorrow while bashing their fellow candidates.
While some may consider it a leap of faith to believe a politician, telling them, “I don’t approve of your message,” my thinking is, “Lucky us” — as in lucky for us we won’t have to go through a presidential election again until the next Leap Year — 2016.
So what was I doing on Leap Day this year? Sitting in the office looking out at a beautiful sunny day while trying to craft an educational bissextile-related column for today’s paper.
Anyone snickering about that can take a flying leap.
Editor David Critchlow Jr. may be contacted by email at

Published in The Messenger 3.2.12