Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tempus Fidgets

I love my clock for its transient numbers. It sits on my bedside table laughing at me. The numbers change as the angle of my vision changes. It is digitally post-modern the way it won’t hold still. It moves randomly, not chronologically, allowing me choices. From one position on my pillow it says 5:32. If I lean an inch it could be 6:54 or 8:45. My clock has me traveling through three or four time zones. It’s a good thing every day is Sunday and I have nowhere to go.

In my working days I woke at 7:40 every morning according to some internal buzzer. I retired that one years ago. Discarding it has untethered me.

This one costs under ten dollars. The bright red numerals surface and recede as if in some sort of peek-a-boo competition. Time is no longer an objective reality; it is a subjective projection. A construct. An agreement between me and my clock.

During the night I get up a couple of times in obedience to my bladder. If I glance at my clock I always guess the right time within six minutes. I think my clock adjusts to my silent estimate just to make me feel good with myself so I can return to easeful sleep.

Punctuality has always been an issue for me. I’m rarely tardy. Tardy is a word I haven’t heard since elementary school. It was a grade on our report card like, Running with Scissors. The very least we can do in this world is not be tardy. Or so I thought.

Now I know better. One can be scrupulously late, especially for parties. Blame it on the traffic. Given the gridlock in L.A. one has to risk being twenty minutes early in order to arrive on time.

My clock is trying to break me of this compulsion. It may be too late. I’ve only been living on arbitrary time for about ten years. Besides, once I leave my beloved clock at my bedside, I’m captive of the other house-clocks and computer which adhere to the agreed-upon lie of fixed time.

What folly! Time is a rascal. It drags in an MRI and flies when I write. In a basketball game the clock is of another order. Four seconds can take ten minutes with time-outs and commercials. Peggy has transformed that annual clock, the calendar, into a supreme fiction. If I could make a watch out of my clock I might, with luck, be late for my own funeral.

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