And Always at My Back I Hear

I used to read a lot of books.  But then the Internet, and Facebook, and eBay took over, and these days I am lucky if I have time to read a magazine.  I find that there are two great places for magazine reading—on an airplane, and at the hairdressers.  From an experiential standpoint, these two places have a lot in common:  you’re in a limited space where you don’t particularly want to be, for a limited period of time which you don’t have, chit-chatting with strangers you don’t really want to talk to, and when it’s over, you can’t wait to get out of there.  Perfect for magazine reading.  Today it was the beauty salon, where I picked up Vanity Fair while having the gray colored away.

I have always been obsessed with time.  My friends will tell you that I am always late.  No matter when or where I start my day, I am never where I need to be when I need to be there.  Apparently this is at least partially genetic—my mother was congenitally late, and I think that my sister and daughter might have inherited a dilute form of the gene.  But for me, it’s full blown.  I own at least twenty watches, and have never been on time for anything—never—not even once. I read recently that being late is a “control issue”.  That the late person is making a “statement” about their priorities, which means that if a person is late to your meeting, or affair, they don’t really want to be there.  I think that’s a load of hogwash.  I think some people are just late.  But hope springs eternal that if I could just get the right kind of watch, I would improve, be reformed, be ON TIME.

Back to the magazine—in the latest issue of Vanity Fair I came across a full page ad for a brand of watch I had never heard of:  Shinola Watches, made right here in Detroit, USA.  The watch pictured was beautiful—functional and utilitarian, with large numbers, a sweep second hand and a date display.  Just the kind of watch a chronically late person would want.  I came home; I looked up the Shinola watch company on the internet.  It appears that a lot of people think the same way I do—that a new watch will improve their punctuality.  I put myself on the waiting list for two watches, both in a lovely plated rose gold.   I am bad at being on time, but very good at waiting for things that I want.  I will wait for my new Shinola watch.

I must confess here, that my fascination with the new watch company out of Detroit, comes from a distant memory dredged up by that ad—my parents, born in 1925 and 1932 respectively—used that old expression to designate when a person, usually me,  demonstrated a complete lack of common sense:  They would say, “You don’t know shit from Shinola!”  I hope that the Shinola watch company will be so successful that its name becomes a synonym for class, and elegance, and functionality, and for being on time.

In the meantime, Andrew Marvell said it best:  “And always at my back I hear, Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.”  Our time is short, and forever running out.  Let’s use it well, or at the very least, as best we can.