Clocks

EC2008-001

Women are unique. That is the nicest possible way of saying that they are different. And that is the nicest possible way of saying that we, men, don’t quite understand what in the world they are doing half the time, which is the nicest possible way of saying that we are clueless, which is the nicest way possible of saying, “Huh?”

This much I have learned in life: women are different than men. Way different. They walk different. They talk different. They throw a baseball way different. They reason different. They eat different. They actually use forks, spoons, and napkins, which men truly believe are passing novelty items. As a bestselling author once put it: “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From the Outer Regions of the Orion Nebula.” We do NOT understand you, and Dr. Phil is not helping.

That’s why men use the “Huh!” word a lot. It’s our cute male way of speaking our minds, which are entirely empty of the foggiest notion as to what’s going on when it comes to our wives, thus the terse, “Huh?”

For instance, and I’ll admit that this is probably the least of our worries, but . . . why do you redecorate so much? Especially, why do you change the furniture around so much? Men get along better with things familiar: chairs in the same place, tables reliably in the same spot, always.

Basically, when we come home at night, we don’t want to use our minds too much. We have been using them all day. They are tired, worn-out minds. We want to lay aside as much thinking as possible. Thus, TV sports. So, whenever things do change, it’s disorienting. Keep in mind, this is a “huh”-speaking-man talking. Deep down, we want to be assured that everything will be alright if we’re ever suddenly struck with blindness. Our desire is to be able to carry on just as we were before: blissfully, regularly, with everything in its place, shins unscathed, kneecaps unbroken.

My wife doesn’t have the budget to redecorate much – a hoity-toity thing here, a wall hanging there – so she really focuses on furniture rearrangement. She’ll wake up in the morning with an actual furniture-changing-expression on her face. I’m getting to know that look; it is worn so common. I’m thinking of lifting our whole living room onto a large motorized Lazy Susan so that it can slowly rotate through the week, maybe satisfying this urge.

Constant female redecorating is not without its perks. A few years ago one of my sisters redecorated her entire home. Everything “country” went. “Country” was o-u-t. She was looking for something more along the lines of . . . now see, here I have to excuse myself, because random redecorating words like “chic” and “trending” and “nouveau” are about to be banded about. So, let me settle right now with the familiar, “Huh?,” and leave it at that.

Amongst the things she was letting go, we were able to acquire her “country” wall clock. We love it. It doesn’t have a single AA battery anywhere on it. It needs to be wound and reset once a month. Other than this, it’s on its own.

For rewinding, it has its own key. It looks like an old roller skate key. We keep this hidden in its cabinet which has the dangling tic-toc arm that clicks as it sways back and forth.

With this key we can wind the right thing-a-ma-bob on the clock face. There is a left thing-a-ma-bob also that you don’t want to wind. We did once, when we first got the clock. It is a “once-an-hour” bonger, telling us, and all the world, when it’s the top of the hour. This I did not like one bit. It’s nice enough to hear things like this (or coo-coos) going off at other people’s houses, but not in my own. It becomes a nuisance real fast, especially when I’m trying to take a mid-afternoon nap.

There you are, all eased back in your familiarly placed recliner in the middle of your living room. You’re skimming restfully along, your head atop a cotton candy pillow. Your mind floating high in the white clouds of REM sleep, then . . . BONG, BONG, BONG, BONG. It’s four o’clock. Loud clanging cymbals are sounding to tell you so, as if you had fallen asleep during a parade, during the passing of the ladies’ auxiliary, the flower club, and the AARP floats. Just then a marching band shows up.

All of that warm, cotton candy pillowed ambiance you had, up until that time, been working so hard to maintain is shot to pieces, all so that you can be informed of the hour. It’s not an alarm. You didn’t want to know that it was 4:00. It’s just a Big Ben meaningless hour chimer, which is really a bummer cause you just fell asleep at 3:50.

The other sound this clock makes, when you only wisely wind its right side, is a great sound for sleeping: tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, one sheep, two sheep, three, four, tic, tic, tic . . .

The only other wrong with this clock is that it doesn’t click down. It clicks up. I’ve often felt that clocks should click down. I know they can’t do this, but wouldn’t it be interesting if they could, and zero was the moment of your death. It could be very useful to know how much time you have left.

It may sound daunting, even haunting, but really, doesn’t “down” make more sense. It would certainly be more sobering. I mean, “39 years, seven months, two weeks, four days, three hours, and 29 seconds” doesn’t sound so bad, but what about when that gets down to just “four days, three hours, and 29 seconds, 28 seconds, 27 seconds, 26 seconds . . . ” This could really get disconcerting, especially if you had “four days” left (according to some omni-seeing clock) and yet you were feeling great, perfectly fine.

This reminds me of a most solemn, but interesting, story that was told to me some years ago. It is of a certain fictitious man, Tom Gorbison, who saw Death walking towards him one day, down the street not too far from his home in Cleveland, Ohio. When Death saw Tom, it was Death first who was taken aback.

“Tom?” Death said. “Tom Gorbison?”

Tom swallowed hard, then answered, “Yes?”

“This may sound unusual, I don’t normally see people ahead of schedule, but I guess that it’s only fair to warn you that, I have an engagement with you later today, at 11:00 tonight, I believe.”

“What?” Tom said.

Death looked down into his appointment book and repeated himself, “Yes. You’re him. 11:00 tonight, Tom Gorbison.”

Tom turned and ran in the opposite direction as fast as he could.

“I’m not ready for you. Not yet.” Tom yelled as he rounded a corner. “I’ve more to do.”

Death, still surprised that he had run into Tom, did not pursue. He let Tom go.

Tom flagged down a taxi and told the driver to “step on it,” as he gave him the address to his house. Once there, he grabbed all the personal affects he could in a few minutes, then he took that same taxi to the airport.

Once there, he boarded the first flight out-of-town. It was bound for Phoenix.

Once his plane landed, he took a cab to Phoenix’s downtown district. Then he took the first city bus he found to the end of its line. After getting off, he roamed its city streets for hours. Finally, around 10:00, he rented a room at a dive hotel, locking himself in. For the next hour, Tom cowered in the corner, next to the bed. He awaited the coming of eleven.

When the clock on his hotel room’s wall read 10:59, sure enough, the very same figure of Death entered the room, as promised.

Approaching Tom, Death’s next victim had to ask before all time ran out, “When I saw you earlier today, in Cleveland, you looked surprised to see me. Why?”

Death grinned slightly as the clock struck eleven.

“Because our appointment was for 11:00 tonight in this hotel room in Phoenix. I was wondering, ‘What is he doing in Cleveland?'”

If I could find one, a clock to tick down, I’m with you, I wouldn’t buy it. But we need to be reminded time-to-time that there is a clock out there someplace that is ticking down. We just don’t see it.

The Psalmist wrote to “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) In verse 10, he says, speaking of life, “it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

Always have your end in sight. Runners do. Don’t be like ol’ Tom there. Live wisely and ever be ready to meet God.

Wait a second! Maybe that’s it! April. Her constant rearranging of all our furniture. Try this. Maybe she’s subliminally trying to award off Death’s approach, by putting obstacles in his way: sofas, coffee and end tables. Now I’ve got it. Now I know what she’s been doing all these years. But then again, maybe it’s just another in as long line of . . . “Huhs?”

 

LOG

Went for a nice eight mile bike run after church last night. April, Ashley, and I. Maty was off to a bonfire with friends. Ours was a beautiful Lyon Lake route, past the Country Club. Temps were pleasingly in the 70s.

 

VOICE FROM THE PAST

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”  G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

 

About William Cole

I am an all-the-time pastor, a part-time hospice chaplain, and a sometimes author. The church is eight miles out in the country from Marshall, MI. The hospice work is with Oaklawn Hospice, where I am Spiritual Care Coordinator. It's right in the town of Marshall. The writing I do to relax. I am elatedly married to my wife, April, and am a proud father to two fine young ladies, Ashley and Maty, not to mention my delightful exchange student daughter, Jessica.
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