Sunday, January 20, 2008


Lately the spam I get relating to a generative organ I don’t have has been almost equaled by the spam about wristwatches which have evidently become great markers of wealth and prowess, to say nothing of incorporating a GPS so you know where you are. I don’t even recognize most of the brands they tout, as follows:
The time is NOW to get YOUR replica watches that are famous around the world. These affordable imitations make you look rich at a fraction of the cost. Choose from any of the following replica watches: AUDEMARS PIGUET, EBERHARD and CO, BAUME and MERCIER, BREITLING, BVLGARI, CARTIER, CHOPARD, FRANK MULLER, IWC, PANERAI, PATEK PHILIPPE, TAG HEUER, TECHNOMARINE AND VACHERON.”

The closest thing I have to a reference point is a little scene in “The Painted Lady” wherein Helen Mirren proposes to pretend to be a countessa. She buys a lot of designer clothing and adds an erzatz wristwatch from the street, cleverly labeled “Fartier.” But she doesn’t wear it because her sister lends her an authentic invaluable wristwatch -- a plot point indicating that though the sisters -- only HALF-sisters, after all -- quarrel quite a bit, they actually love each other very much.

In my birth family on my father’s side, major milestones were celebrated with a fountain pen, new spectacles or a wristwatch. Therefore, when I graduated from the eighth grade, I was given a wristwatch. Perversely, I hated the thing because it had a practical round face and I thought it should be delicate. I wept, trapped between the proper gratitude and hating it. I can’t remember what finally happened. I think I was told off.


In this photo what is rather notable is the way I display the watch -- not holding out my dainty wrist but bending my arm as though showing elbow scabs. The picture always makes me think of the bit when Tom Sawyer is pretending to be a girl until a woman he is visiting tosses a ball of yarn into his lap and he claps his knees together to catch it, because he’s used to pants. The woman sees at once that if he had been a girl used to skirts, he would have spread his legs apart so his skirt would make a lap to catch the yarn. So was I defiantly “being a boy?” I don’t remember.

In defense of my mother, here I am in my 8th grade graduation dress, which we made ourselves. It was pale green organdy and for my mother it evoked her own 8th grade graduation when she had a dress the same color. Her mother had sent her out to get the cows on the day before the ceremony, the cows had wandered a long way, and my mother was painfully sunburned in a different pattern than the dress. My grandmother was mortified. In those days a nice lady didn’t let herself get sunburned. I don't think she was given any 8th grade graduation gift.

When my mother’s father died and left her a bit of money and his car, she told each of us she would buy us something to remember him by. I don’t know what my brothers asked for, but I picked out the most elegant of bracelet wristwatches from Jerome Margulies, a fancy Portland jeweler. It had a tiny square face, nearly impossible to read. Worse, the design of the plates of gold, linked, was such that it constantly unbuckled itself and fell on the ground. If I were lucky, I heard it fall and found it right away. Finally, I moved it to a jewelry box -- to impractical to wear, too sentimental to discard.

When Bob divorced me, I used part of my $1,000 alimony to buy him a fancy wristwatch with engraving on the back. (The last of my co-dependence. Well, maybe not.) Lorraine, the fourth wife, bought him an even fancier wristwatch with sappier engraving, which he flaunted in front of me when we secretly met. I laughed. He never wore any wristwatch anyway.

By the time I went into ministry, everyone had switched to digital wristwatches. I had a dandy little digital clock that velcro-stuck to the pickiup dashboard, but it ran on a battery and when the weather got cold enough, the battery no longer generated any electricity. I always forgot to bring it into the house with me between trips.

But my wristwatch then was big, round, and analog, though it also ran on a battery. It had a leather strap and was actually a man’s wristwatch, which I wanted so I could see it when I was preaching or counseling without having to hold it up to my eye. People don’t mind if you keep track of the time while you preach, but they aren’t always pleased if you check the hour while they’re telling you the most significant moment of their life.

When I retired, I also retired my wristwatch. I only wear it to meet someone or get to a scheduled event and I had to put a reminder note on my back door to remember even do that.

But I still watch the time and have a collection of little bookshelf clocks. My bathroom one died and I felt badly -- it was a frosted aquamarine circle, very Art Deco. My next favorite is the little wooden one on the bookshelf behind this computer. I use them to keep track of radio shows, to time spoken pieces, to sort of keep a bit of schedule -- though the cats suffice for that.

Except that I need a re-set button on Squibbie. I had a nightmare that woke me at 2AM a couple of nights ago and now Squib wants to get up at 2AM, EVERY night. She’s a very nighttime cat. Crackers is a daytime cat: she wants to take a nap on the electric mattress pad at 3PM every afternoon. Usually that’s exactly what I want, too, so we nap together.

A person can find tons of philosophical speculating about time-keeping and village bells that keep the liturgical hours and all that sort of thing. I’ve read quite a bit of that stuff, which keeps the next door Baptist church bells interesting -- even knowing that they’re computerized recordings. I try to keep track of the moon cycles as well, and of course the big calendrical cycles. We’re not quite to the halfway point of the first quarter (AKA Ground Hog's Day) -- time to order seeds to start indoors, according to today’s paper. I haven’t done that before. Maybe this will be the year I try it. Maybe I’ll grow some “Four o’Clocks.”

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