The Day Time Stood Still

The day I lost my watch, time stopped. I don't mean that it momentarily paused because I was anxious about losing an expensive time piece. No, my watch wasn't expensive. It was a cheap Timex. What I mean is that time literally stopped. Stopped dead in its tracks. From that moment on, every day was an exact repeat of the previous one. Every morning when I got up and retrieved the morning newspaper, the headlines were the same. Not a word was altered. The news was the same as the news that had been reported the day before. The same thing was true of television. The morning news was identical to yesterday's news. This happened on a Tuesday, and the evening shows on TV were Tuesday's shows day after day.

There is a joke going around about a lawyer who loses an arm in a traffic accident. He is dismayed not by the loss of a limb but because of the loss of his Rolex. I know how he feels. I looked everywhere for my missing timepiece. I looked in every drawer in the house, in the pockets of all my jackets and pants, in the garage, in the car. No luck. I couldn't find the watch anyplace.

At first I looked in all the obvious places, but I really didn't look very hard because it occurred to me that there were advantages to my unexpected dilemma. If it were true that time had mysteriously come to a halt, then clearly I wasn't growing older. I didn't mind that. I had begun losing my hair; there was a growing bald spot on the crown of my head. I was delighted that it would grow no larger.

But then the novelty wore off and boredom set in. Same old stories in the newspaper, same old news on TV. And every channel, every day, it was nothing but reruns. Good grief! But the worst was going to work and having the same old letters to write, the same old meetings to snore through, the same old corny jokes to listen to as my colleagues and I gathered at the water cooler. At home the kids whined about the same thing they had whined about the day before, and I had to endure my wife's repeated complaints. We had wieners and beans for dinner every night because that's what we had the day I lost my watch. Oh, Lord! I was spending a fortune on Mylanta.

In desperation, I put an ad in the newspaper. LOST, it said, Timex watch. Sentimental value. $1,000 reward. I was deluged with calls! I would ask what the band looked like, and the answer would be, Uh, it's, well, it's black, no brown. Is it leather? I'd ask. Yeah, yeah, that's it, would be the reply. Sorry, I'd say, and hang up. The band was canvas, and nobody, not one caller, had found a watch with a canvas band.

Fortunately, before I went out into the garage, sat in the car with the engine running with a hose from the exhaust poked through a window, I found the watch. It was under a dresser in the bedroom. The cat must have been playing with it, as cats will do, and she knocked it onto the floor. How it got under the dresser, I don't know. Maybe I kicked it without being aware that I had done so as I emptied the pockets of my pants onto the top of the dresser at bedtime.

Anyway, the next day, things were back to normal. Time flies, it's true. But think of the alternative.

- Jack Swenson