Full Circle: Tick-Tock
Wrist watches never really liked me

Time has never been on my side. When I was starting high school, my mother pulled me aside and said, “I’m going to give you a special present.” She opened a small red leather box and took out a sparkling gold watch.

“This used to be your grandfather’s,” she said. “He worked his ass off for this. Forty years of driving a horse and wagon for Frank’s, do you know what that’s like? Schlepping 6 days a week all over South Philly to deliver cases of soda.”

I shrugged my shoulders. She went on.

“It was pure hell for him. He didn’t get paid well. He didn’t have healthcare. He got a watch. A Longines watch. And he wanted me to give it to you. Now you guard this watch with your life. You better not let anything happen to it.”

“I’m not a little kid anymore,” I said. “I know how to take care of a watch.”

Actually, I had no idea. I had never worn a watch. Just seemed like something old men did.

And so, on the first day of school, I walked up to Devereux and got the old 88 bus. It was a warm day, so the windows were down. We started singing “High School USA,” because, you know, we were going to high school in the USA.

I decided the song could use a little drum line. So I stuck my arm outside the window and started thumping on the side of the bus. You can see where this is going, can’t you? Yep. I smashed the watch crystal and it just shattered all over Devereux Street.

Now, I’m here today to tell you this was all my father’s fault. My father was the one who taught me to wear a watch facing in. That way, people won’t notice when you look to check the time. And so, I wore the watch face on the inside of my wrist, the same part of my wrist I used to bang the bus. “I knew it,” my mother yelled.

“I just knew it. If you know how hard your grandfather worked…”

Faced with that, I did what any freshman would do. I cried and ran up to my room and slammed the door.

It would be years before I wore a watch again. I bought a Timex. Cheap. And, just for fun, I got a Mickey Mouse model, where Mickey’s hands were the watch’s hands.

Flash to France. I was on assignment there. I had some free time in Paris. Unfettered and alive, I was doing a little shopping, waiting for the light to turn green on the Champs-Elysées. There was an older woman standing next to me. Did I mention that I don’t speak French?

The woman asked me a question. I had no idea what she wanted. So I did what any ugly American would do. I shrugged my shoulders. This clearly angered her. She grabbed my arm and pointed to my watch.

“Oh, the time,” I said, and I turned the watch around to show her the face. She looked at me, then looked at Mickey Mouse, then ran across the street like she was being chased by a madman.

These days, I wear an Apple watch my wife got me. If you’re home alone and happen to trip and fall, the watch will somehow summon the rescue squad.

The first day I wore it, we went to my grandson’s bar mitzvah in North Jersey. The highlight of the day was my grandson reading from the Torah. He did a great job. Not one mistake. Flawless.

His performance definitely called for applause. As I clapped my hands together forcefully, my Apple watch went off. Sirens, bells and whistles. The force of my clapping had triggered the rescue squad call. As someone who never reads instruction booklets, I had no idea how to turn it off.

So, I quickly left the room. After 17 failed attempts, I finally stopped the alarm and went back in.

“Did I miss anything?” I asked my wife.

“No,” she said, “just dinner and dessert.”

Read more “Full Circle” from Maury Z. Levy

December 2022
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