My watch broke. It was my puppy’s fault, really. If she wasn’t such a thief-- stealing socks from baskets, tissues from trash cans and papers from the office, I wouldn’t have to pen her up in the kitchen while I’m showering. Hence, I would not have tripped over the baby gate (it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m both clumsy and oblivious) and fallen flat-out on the kitchen floor. My watch broke when I hit the ground. Matters were not helped by the fact that my puppy deduced this was an exciting new game and jumped on the back of my head, banging my nose into the floor.
But, alas, I digress. Part of my job in the museum in which I works is to lead tours of school groups when they visit the facility. The facility itself is comprised of two ancient houses, joined by a large atrium. Because of the Victorians’ love of narrow, twisty hallways, we have to divide large groups into managable herds and shepard them through in a timed pattern. Hence, the need for a watch.
I’m a simple girl with simple needs. Well, maybe that’s not the right way to put it. More honest would be to say that, as a rabid bibliophile, I resent spending anything but the bare minimum on life’s essentials because it takes precious dollars from my book budget.
So, I hie myself to Ye Olde Department Store, looking for a simple watch. I know exactly what I’m looking for: black, (to go with everything) waterproof so I don’t have to take it off in the shower and then forget to put it back on, with a nightlight or glowing face and, most importantly, cheap. (As an American, it’s my God-given right to have access to vast quantities of cheap, foreign made goods.) I thought it would be a very simple purchase.
Oh, how wrong I was. I was confronted by an embarassment of choices. There were pastels, jewel tones in clear plastic and bizarre shapes, ones which flashed digital images of pulsing hearts behind the face, ones which looked like they contained more technology than the Stealth Bomber which had multi-dialed faces roughly the size of a hubcap, ones which were designed to look like bracelets with garish fake gemstones, and technicolor ones decorated with various cartoon characters, some of which made jarring noises upon the strike of the hour.
The woman behind the counter must have noticed my frustration, because she asked if she could help. Thinking perhaps I had missed what I was looking for in the mass of flashy merchandise before me, I described that for which I searched.
I could tell from her expression that she must have thought I belonged to some bizarre sect of jeans-wearing Amish, because she said with a faint smile that it seemed such watches weren’t in demand these days and that they carried none.
A sign of the times? Has the era of the simple Timex passed? Is this a indication of imminent old-codgerism descending upon me? Should I surrender to the siren call of a Hello Kitty watch, and wear it with self-concious kitsch? As much as it impresses me that modern wristwatches contain more technology than that available to the Apollo space program, I yearn for simplicity.