On Thursday, September the 18th, I was given a gold pocket watch. A present from a good friend, it seemed to be a blessing. He had told me, “I saw this, and thought you’d love it.
Take it to the party on Monday, it will be a smashing hit.” “My old watch is cracked on the face, there’s a dent on the side, it’s made of cheap brass and the chain is too short,” I thought.
How could I be seen with such a watch? Why, the contents of my breast pocket would be the absolute ridicule of any respectable gentleman! Say for instance, I was stopped on the street.
A poor fellow comes up to me.
He says, “Good sir, may I trouble you for the time?” With anguish at the embarrassment I would withdraw my warped bastard of a timepiece to give the hours and the minutes.
How should he see me? How should I be seen? Would I trust a man with such a watch to tell me the accurate time?
Why, if I stopped a man on the street, and he pulled out such a watch, surely I would stop to myself and consider the inaccuracies.
What if the springs were slightly off-center? The gears a little too loose? Could he even decipher the digits behind that shattered visage it pronounced?
With admiration and joy at my salvation from secondary status I accepted the gift, and gave thanks.
On Friday, September the 19th, I was struck by a juxtaposition. Having the watch only in my hand before, I had seen not but the lovely nature of its sparkling edifice.
The smooth, elegant construction. The sharp, exacting gears. However, upon attaching it to my waistcoat, I came to the startling conclusion of just how nice it was.
Look at this… this thing! This sparkling savior of saved seconds! This golden god of glorious grace! I was not worthy to bow down before it, let alone wind its gears.
For half an hour I stood, staring. Watch attached to my coat, judging the contrast. How presentable was I know!? My best outfit could not accommodate the presence of such a being.
My hat was suddenly too torn; my coat too ragged; my boots too worn; my pants too baggy. It was an absolute disaster. I know what he must have been thinking.
He’s out to ruin me! The slimy bastard doling out gifts like some higher power, secretly conniving for me to outclass myself! And in front of everyone else! Some gift this is; some friend he is.
How is this supposed to work together? I seem a beggar putting on a show, classing up to impress. This is no way to present myself.
On Saturday, September 20th, I stood outside a shop window. Behind the glass, freshly frosted with winter chill, I stared longingly at the most elegant coat in the town.
It seemed not made of any earthly material, but rather stitched by the angels with threads of the heavens. Side pockets perfectly symmetrical. Buttons in just the right position.
Arms at just the right length. It would fit perfectly. It shouldn’t need any alterations. I stared at it, and I was enthralled with desire.
I entered the shop and inquired as to the price of the garment. “80 dollars, sir,” he said to me. 80 dollars? 80 dollars! I’m no king. I’m no prince. I’m not even a duke.
80 dollars to the common man is too much a price to pay. Ask for my soul, but 80 dollars! I couldn’t bear it. But the coat! I was drawn to it.
I don’t know what came over me, but I went to check the time, I had an appointment to make. I realized I had not worn the watch on me, feeling too ashamed to be seen in its presence.
Grasping at air, I instinctively reached to the other pocket and wrote out a check. I forked over my money, and took the coat home in secret.
On Sunday, September 21st, I looked in the mirror. Coat on. Watch attached. I was starting to look respectable. I quite fancied myself till I made the slightest tilt downwards.
My boots and slacks each seemed ten times the worse than they had just two days previous. A patching or two seemed to stick out more prominently. A wearing on the front toes.
Oh how they changed! I could hardly keep up with them. “Maybe it will be alright,” I thought. Gentlemen look each other in the eye, not on the foot.
Just engage them in conversation, and all will be fine. But, how embarrassed I should be if it were noticed. How ashamed I should be of myself.
Wasting no time, I galloped to the store, and found myself exiting unsatisfied. I never carried that much money with me.
I returned home with great determination as I opened the top left dresser drawer and pulled out the false bottom to reveal my savings. I counted.
There was just barely enough! Sure, I might have to go light on the food for the next month or so.
And perhaps I might do without a fire this winter, but most importantly, I had almost enough!
I dashed to the store, and returned triumphantly with another half of my outfit and a few dollars loaned on credit.
The shoes go with the pants, the pants with the coat, and the coat with the watch. All is fine! All is well! I shall be the top of the party, the sight of the scene.
I returned home, exhausted from emotional exertion, and promptly drank myself into a sleep.
On Monday, September 22nd, I woke up in a sweat. How could I forget! The hat! The hat! Dear God, how could I be so stupid!? A king has his crown, a gentleman his hat. Hastily, I dressed.
It seemed alright with my old hat. Maybe they would be so distracted by the coat and the pants and the shoes and the watch as to not notice my shortcoming? Oh, bother. I knew it was hopeless.
They’d see it as soon as I walked in. My raggedy helmet floating above respectable heads.
How could they take me even remotely seriously with this thing on me? I returned in a hurry to the store, and inquired of the owner as to the possibility of receiving a loan on the hat.
“Well,” he said, “In the years I’ve worked here, I’ve not seen a man so desperate to assemble an outfit. It would be a true shame if your outfit should not be completed.
” He gave me the loan, and I thanked him vigorously. Damn the expense, status was worth more than the money it was based on.
On Tuesday, September 23rd, I returned home from the party. How could I tell? Had it made a good impression? Why, it seemed they treated me well.
Granted I was a little underwhelmed with the reception, but it still seemed positive. I looked at myself in the mirror.
All these clothes, this hat, this coat, these pants, these shoes, this watch, had any of it done anything? Surely it must have. It is impossible for it not to have.
Surely? I undressed and went to bed, but slept little, rerunning the evening in my mind. Nightmarish visions of slacks and timepieces floated across my consciousness.
How could I know? Surely there should be a way?
On Wednesday, September 24th, I went to my friend’s house. He greeted me warmly, and I returned it with a smile. I would not bring it up.
If he mentioned it, that would be proof enough of the effect. If not, I would seek elsewhere. We sat down in the living room for tea. “How are you feeling?” he said.
“What do you mean?” I replied. “You seemed a little off at the party.” “Off?” “I noticed it quite plainly. You seemed nervous. Is there something troubling you?” “Why, of course not.
” “Good then. I was just worried for you, that’s all.” With polite banter, we finished the tea and I left.
Truly this was some cosmic joke? How could I leave a poor impression with such a presentation? ‘Nervous’ bollocks! I was never more confident in my life.
The class of the clothes seeped through the stitching and into my personage. I was never more elegant in my life! With a huff, I returned home to sit in the silence.
On Thursday, September 25th, I was disturbed by a knock on the door. I checked the watch. Damn thing, had to be wound up. What does it matter if it works, I thought.
So long as it looks the part, I’ll play it. I looked out the window.From the setting sun I deduced it must be about six. I opened the door. Who was it, but the shop owner.
“Sir,” he said with a curt tone. “I’ve come to request payment on your last few purchases. It’s nothing against you, but I need to have a return of the funds as soon as possible.
” “Certainly,” I said. I went to the top, left, dresser drawer. I opened it and removed the false bottom.
Nothing! As I replaced it empty handed, the man inquired of me “Have you the necessary funds, sir?” “No,” I replied. “Have you anything of value to exchange?” I looked around the room.
Nothing could come close to the clothing’s price. “Could I just return the clothes?” “I’m afraid not sir. Once worn they decrease infinitely in value.
You’d be better off giving them to a second hand shop.” “I don’t know then.” “Well you must have something?” I patted my pockets. All I had was the watch. My most prized possession. My beloved.
My sparkling beauty. How could I part with thee? How could I live without thee? How could I live with thee? In debt? In poverty? How could I live then? With reluctance I handed over the watch.
“This is all of value I have to my name. It is my prized possession. It is myself. Take good care of it. That is all I ask of you.” Solemnly, I relinquished the talisman.
The man took it in his hands. He turned it over. He examined it. He chuckled. “What is it? Is this not enough?” “Not enough?” he laughed. “This isn’t worth the time of day.
” He chuckled, and I sank. He left my apartment, and soon enough, so did I.