This past Friday night I did something I hadn't expected to do again this year -- I took a midnight swim. As a result of the (presumably) last gasp of summer, air temperature and water temperature made it not just possible, but inviting. So, after watching TV and finishing a book I'd been reading, I did a couple of laps in the moonlight.
But as I was drying off, I started wondering if this would be my last moonlight swim of 2010. Certainly, until a few minutes earlier, I would have said that my last one had been during Labor Day weekend. But until the cover is on and the pool is closed for the season, I can't say for certain that there won't be one more night that I'll be out there.
Taking it to a larger scale, there are some things that you can say, "This is the last time I'll..." about. Your last day of classes before high school graduation, for example. "This is the last time I'll be in Physics." If the time period available for you to do something is finite and you do it at the last possible moment, you can safely say "This is the last time."
But how about something like going to a favorite restaurant? Unless it closes, when is the last time you ever go there? You may never be able to say.
Even asserting "I'm never going to do that again!" isn't a guarantee. (How many times has Brett Favre retired...so far?) Perhaps one of the best examples of that is Sean Connery playing James Bond. He announced after "You Only Live Twice" that he was done. After George Lazenby did "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," Connery was lured back for "Diamonds Are Forever." This time, however, he said he would never play Bond again. Until eleven years later, when he made "Never Say Never Again." The title of the film is attributed to Connery's wife, who told him exactly that after his "Diamonds" announcement.
And how do you know when it's the last time you'll see somebody you know? Unless it is the grimmest of circumstances and you're sitting in the hospital room right before they pull the plug, you don't. Otherwise, it is only when they are dead that you can determine for certain the occasion of the last time you saw them...and, presumably, you didn't know it at the time.
So, these are the kinds of things I think about when I take a midnight swim. The last midnight swim? Who can say?