Miss(ed) Manners

April 1, 2005

Miss(ed) Manners: Watch This

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 4:00 pm

I’ve got no fucking idea what time it is.

Seriously. Judging by the homemade paper pulp colored light coming through the window it could be anywhere between 9am and 6pm, I’m not even sure if we’ve hit Daylight Savings Day (or as I call it, Fuck You, World Day) yet.

Why? Because I don’t have a watch on anymore.

Here’s a picture of my gross, hairy wrist with no watch:

Pleasant, right?

I always wear a watch, I’ve worn one since I was five years old and Swatches had just come out. My grandparents bought matching Art Deco, “Saved By the Bell” style 80’s pastel masterpieces for my older brother and I. If I had known what sex was at the time I would have been getting tail up and down my Elementary School wing.

“What time is it Dave?”

“It’s five minutes past the erroneously placed checker board and like three hours to the neon green speckled asphalt.”

So hot.

Anyway, about two weeks ago my watch began to die a slow and painful death. All feeding tube jokes aside, it just started hemorrhaging time. Five minutes here, ten minutes there, until the day I woke up at 11pm to my 8am alarm clock. I took it off and laid it to rest in front of my computer, vowing to raise it from the dead by way of a new battery.

That never really happened, obviously, because I got it in my head that it would be a great idea to try and live life for a week or two without a watch. For the first few days all these awesome hippie ideas flowed through my head. I’d no longer be a slave to society’s demand on my time. I’d make my schedule how I wanted, I’d be more relaxed, I’d transcend the petty structure of urban life.

This didn’t happen. Instead, I:

* Would continually shake my now-naked wrist and hold it up to my face, trying to figure out the time. You’d think I’d have had a Pavlovian response to the dozens of gapers who assumed I had Parkinson’s, but no, I still do this.

* Showed up late to work, all the time. I turn off my alarm when it rings in the morning and instead rely on frequent half asleep glances at my watch to let me know that it’s time to get moving. Instead, I was staring at my sasquatch-wrist and getting sucked back into a dream about being a fur-mite and being marooned on my friend Mike’s back.

After about a week of this, nothing had really changed. I didn’t stop looking for the time, in fact, I began actively seeking it out in all places I could imagine. Following my retarded wrist flourish I’d dive back into my pocket and pull out my cell phone. At work I’d constantly be checking the time in the corner of my screen, and then rechecking it against some atomic clock website. I was a man obsessed.

I had one last chance at redemption this past weekend. I was visiting my folks in upstate New York for Easter. I was hoping that the relaxed country atmosphere would put my New York minute mindeset at ease. It was entirely possible.

Upstate New York during the beginning days of Spring is like a week old wound that you just tore the scab off of. The ground is moist and fragrant, bits of tattered grass are strewn about. It’s beautiful in a very wet sort of way.

Well, apparently not beautiful enough to make me want to stop and smell the roses, or my family for that matter, though they shower regularly. We were having an Easter party and people were running around like ants on crack trying to get things set up. I had decorations to make, my siblings had rooms to clean, my mother had an entire lamb to cut, gut and roast and time was running out.

The entire weekend was on a schedule and even when it came time for me to return to the city, I had a train to make. Rush rush rush rush.

Time’s an impossible thing to step around. Even when I’m cut off from it at the wrist, I can’t seem to get out of the way of an entire culture that’s got a schedule. When that schedule is moving too slow, I’m looking at the clock to mark my progress until I can move onto the next event. When it’s moving too fast, I’m checking the clock to see how much more fun I can have until I have to sleep.

There really isn’t a moral to this week’s column, I wish there was. I’m actually ambivalent about the whole experience. I miss my watch, I wish I didn’t but I do. This whole experiment was an absolute miserable failure.

I’m getting a new battery this weekend, just in time to offer up the sacrificial hour to the Daylight Savings God. I’m sure there’s a way to opt out of this schedule and be enlightened. Lord knows I’ve tried, but you know what? I really don’t have time for that silly kind of shit. I’ve got stuff to do.


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