While riding our exercise bike, I pondered the importance of clocks — mostly because after achieving sufficient torture minutes, I could get off. And reward myself with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Usually, though, I’m not a clock-watcher; my devout, free-spirited parents lauded flexibility as a key virtue. Keeping track of time? Not so much. Church services they led not only seemed to go on forever, they actually did.
So, when my second-grade teacher instructed our class about telling time, I didn’t see the point. Besides, if the big hand was on two, plain as day, why did she insist it read 10 minutes after the hour? Why should insignificant dots between the numbers dictate the operation of the universe?
Given that cosmic view, I didn’t own my first wristwatch until eighth grade.
My husband received his as a kindergartner. Perhaps his family operated like normal people?
Liam, our time-loving toddler, is now 10 and still watches clocks.
Decades later, our toddler grandson, Liam, exhibited that “normal” behavior tenfold. Every visit.
LIAM: Grandma, want pretty “numbers-clock.”
GRANDMA: If you wear my watch, you must give it back before I leave.
LIAM: (nodding vigorously) I will.
(Grandma doubles the band around his tiny wrist.)
LIAM: (caressing the watch) My numbers-clock.
At least, I escaped the mugging Liam’s library storyteller suffered when he refused to give up his numbers-clock.
While most North Americans don’t go to that extreme, other cultures do puzzle about our clock fetish. The Lilliputians in Gulliver’s Travels, captured that viewpoint perfectly in describing Gulliver’s pocket watch as a god he worshipped: “He assured us … that he seldom did anything without consulting it. He called it his oracle and said it pointed out the time for every action of his life.”
Centuries later, I find this true, even at night. Do you, too, play peekaboo during the wee hours with merciless numbers that scare away sleep?
Cell phones, rather than clocks, often rule both nights and days. Still, I consult my watchless wrist. That failing, I consult my phone — after I find it.
Perhaps a residue of freedom from time survives, as demonstrated in our living room. Two clocks reside there, neither of which works. As dusty décor, they read 1:57 and 3:01, respectively. This annoys Liam, no longer a mugger, but still a clock-watcher at 10.
The first is my husband’s great-great-grandfather’s mantel clock, with its ornate brass lions, rings and trims. But I like the other best, a modest crystal clock Hubby gave me for Christmas long ago.
A note accompanied it: “My love for you is timeless.”
Clock-watcher or not, exercise-bike rider or chocolate-eating slacker, I have time for that.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: When do you watch the clock?