One minute we were hanging upside down from the monkey bars with pigtails and pixie cuts, singing, “It’s about time. It’s about space. It’s about your, ugly face.” And then it was 1975 and the eve of our high school graduation.
Our class partied over night, beginning the day before the ceremony, in a park by the lake, where I slept on one of two benches that were set at a ninety degree angle. I was head to head with a guy I’d always had a little bit of a crush on. That was the last time I ever saw him and our final conversation, before we slipped into acoma, was about the big dipper.
The next morning I wandered into the house, looking like shit and my mother was all like, “Call Jason. He’s been dialing this number every half hour. And where have you been?”
“Sleeping on a park bench.”
Here is the thing.
In 1975 you were legally an adult at eighteen and I’d been eighteen for two and a half months. I was practically middle aged. So, if I chose to sleep on a park bench, I could sleep on a park bench.
Life then, was nothing like it is now. We all spent the night in that park and the only person who was upset about it, was my boyfriend.
Later that day. I met up with the rest of my class in the gym and all four hundred of us marched into the stadium with our headaches and our gowns. We listened to speeches. We walked up on stage. We shook hands with a bunch of men and women in suits and we were handed our diplomas. Back in our seats, we moved our tassels over to the left and then we threw our caps into the air, all at the same time.
That was legal too.
A guy with dreamy eyes seated next to me, by the luck of the alphabet, picked me up, twirled me around in the air and kissed me on the lips.
After the hoopla was over, my family drove away in Norbert, a white Kingswood Estate station wagon with wood side panels and Jason and I followed in his rumbling, red, GS Skylark with the rear jacked up, to Shakey’s Pizza Parlor.
An old black and white, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy movie was playing up on the big screen and garlic and oregano wafted, as I opened my gift.
“Oh, dats a good idea, Ollie.” I heard Stanley say, and I pulled out a, white Timex watch, with a red face, white numbers and white hands.
“I love it,” I said, holding it up for everyone at the long picnic-styled table to see.
“Good,” said my mom above all the clatter. “I wasn’t sure if you would. “You’ve never cared much about the time.”
“What? No, I love it. ” I said, admiring the merchandise and then I passed it around. Louisa and Ki-Ki tried it on and my little brothers poured more Pepsi into their glasses.
The very next day, I dove into a pool and I killed it.
Yes, it is true. I am guilty of killing time.
I tried to breathe life back into it with a hair dryer, but the plastic bubble over the red face turned into a cloud and when it finally cleared a few days later, the hands were frozen. It was ten after three, forever.
It was still a nice accessory, until one day a lady at the mall, pushing curly haired twins in a double wide stroller, stopped and asked me what time it was. That was the end of it. I was sick of pretending that I forgot to wind my watch and disappointing people who really needed to know the time.
I had a few different watches after the red and white Timex that lasted less than twenty-four hours. But, I could never get used to checking my wrist to see if I was running late. In the seventies, you really did have to wind your watch. So, whatever mine said, could not be taken seriously.
In 1986 I married reliable, Sven.
Sven had a watch for every occasion. And you could ask him at any given moment for the time.
We all did.
“What time is it?”
The Subdudes were Headlining at the Barrymore and a bunch of us girls were shaking our booties up in there in the front, when we were suddenly overcome with thirst. All the guys went to the lobbby on a beer run. All the guys came back with beer. Well, all the guys came back with beer, but Sven.
Sven did not return.
We continued to dance.
Still no Sven.
“Don’t worry,” said my brother.
Three songs later, Sven shows up with a clock.
“What the?” I said.
“Do you like it?” he says.
“Well, where is the beer?”
“Oh, that line was way too long,” he says. “The clock line was shorter.”
I never did get that beer and that Subdudes clock is still hanging up in the loft and it hasn’t told the correct time since about 1996.
It appears that the second hand is no longer with us.
A few years ago, Sven gave me this alarm clock for Christmas.
Don’t panic. That wasn’t the only thing he gave me. He knows as well as anybody that he would be at the bottom of the pond with rocks piled on top of him, if that were the case.
“It projects the time onto the ceiling,” he says proudly.
“Is that good?”
“Well, of course it is. In the middle of the night you can just open your eyes and the time will be displayed up there. You won’t even have to turn your head.”
I was especially happy that day that I did not suffer from insomnia. I do not think it would be very pleasant to stare into space all night and see every fucking minute of it.
However, the particular projector alarm clock that Sven gave me is haunted.
It does not project the time. It projects whatever the hell it feels like. It can be numbers. It can be letters. Sometimes it pulses. Usually it does not. Sometimes it looks like it might be military time, but it is not. Sometimes it looks like it could be standard time, but no. And once in a blue moon, it is only a few minutes away from the actual truth.
But not even one time, has it been right.
So, when I wake up and I glance at the ceiling, the only thing that I know for sure, is that whatever I see up there, is not the time.
A word of caution for any of you out there who are considering buying a haunted, projector, alarm clock for your sweetheart. Laughter will occur if you are under the influence of any legal or non legal substances that are swallowed or inhaled. And this can and will lead to hysteria, with snorting and accidental farts and all of it will cause a stomach ache. These fits can last for an hour or more.
But do not go by your ceiling.
Two years ago I purchased an interesting, pressed tin, fish clock, at the art fair. I thought it could replace the kitchen clock that had been hanging over the kitchen door, until a gusty wind came in through the screen and blew it off it’s nail and all of Sven’s papers off the table and everything swirled in the air like a tornado and then it all hit the floor in a big heap. The papers could be rescued. But sadly, the clock could not.
It was it’s time.
As a fish clock, the hands were invisible.
It became a fish decoration.
As a fish decoration, the only thing I ever see, are the hands.
So, how in the hell do I know what time it is?
There are lot’s of ways.
I can just check my cell phone.
When, it is charged.
Well, I can always count on my trusty desk top computer down on there on the right hand corner of the screen.
Oh, wait, my computer lives in a different time zone. There is math involved. But, hey, that is what keeps me so sharp. And what the hell is that red exclamation mark?
According to the French clock that replaced the fish clock that replaced the clock that blew off the nail above the door, it is 5:30.
What I would really appreciate, is just a straight answer.
“Do you, French clock, promise to tell the time, the whole thyme and nothing but the time?
So help you, God?”
“Je ne comprende pas.”
Son of a bitch.