Thetime was approaching 7:30 a.m. today, and I was walking the one block worth of hill between me and Milwaukie Ave., the bus route I take most often to go to work. Reminding myself -- right before I missed one bus and got on a later one -- that a bus tends to go by my bus stop sometime between 7:30 and 7:40.
I'd thought of that as "The Thirties."
I could've thought of that as "between 7:30 and 7:40" -- I even could've used military time, I grew up with one military-time, glowing-blue digital clock atop our house's home entertainment system so I know 1527 is 3:27 p.m. without having to think about it -- but I specified that chunk of time differently than I had before. It seemed...elegant. It also seemed...maybe overthought. Don't we have enough ways to specify time? And maybe it's not obviously about the time. Could be about the decade when we had the Great Depression and a President in a wheelchair and where this neat invention called radio was really making an impression while this other neat invention called a television was about to really make an impression. Heck, 20 years from now "The Thirties" will refer to the time we and our descendants will be living in eventually. So what I said, had I said it to a person, could have confused said person. I'm already too good at causing confusion, so I don't want to risk exacerbating that.
But maybe it would work. We'd still have the problem we had last decade of what to call the first 10 minutes, the way we couldn't decide collectively on a name for the years between 2000 and 2010. "The Oughts" seemed to come closest to widespread use; maybe we could use that for the first 10 minutes of an hour. We could handle "The Teens," "The Twenties," "The Thirties" (of course! We'd already had!), "The Forties" and "The Fifties." Then we'd be to a new hour, the way we keep doing each day and night, in the one form of time travel we can demonstrably do.
Maybe in the future we'll need to have that gradation of meaning to describe part of an hour, to have it divided up in something more general than minutes but more specific than each hour. If so, I offer my brainstorm. Like whomever first gave us the phrase "pretty much," which has that "almost complete but not quite but it's really close" quality.
But for now, my then-still-awaking mind found its own way to express itself. Keep thinking, mind!