The noted philosopher Richard Bernard “Red” Skelton left a permanent mark on me as a child. He filled his weekly CBS variety show in the 60's with all manner of characters–clowns, talking seagulls, etc. Skelton also sired a one-liner that still makes me laugh today.
And, it's clean.
One guy asks anothrer guy what time it is. The other guy pulls up his left sleeve, revealing to all that he has no watch. Stuck for an answer, the man replies, “Two hairs past a freckle.”
Fractures me every time.
Even back then, watching Red on our ancient black and white RCA set, I no doubt had a watch on my wrist. Thought it made me seem grown up. I was a Timex man back then, a believer that the brand “takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'.” Heck, if it could withstand the rigors of fifth grade recess, I figured it could handle anything. As I grew older, I'd sex my watches up with Speidel “Twist O' Flex” bands that you could literally tie in knots with no fear of it breaking. My style of choice: “Romunda” bands that kinda sorta looked like leather and made your cheap timepiece look much more elegant.
I'd switch out only once–for love–as a girlfriend gave me a wondrous “digital” watch for Christmas in the mid 70's. It gave the time in bright red numbers, sans hands and that familiar tick tick tick. Trouble was, it couldn't take the lick. Too often I'd check my wrist and see digital jibberish instead of hours and minutes.
Technology improved and eventually, the analog watch of youth went the way of the dial phone. I never spent a lot of money on any of my devices, usually going for the one that had the most bells/whistles/buttons for the least amount of jangle. Pricier models synch time with satellites so you're always up to the very second, if that's important to you.
It's no secret kids (applying here to anyone under 30) don't do watches anymore, using instead one of the kazillion other ways one can snag the time such as a laptop or, well, duh, the cellphone. Or, they sport what is now called a “wearable,” that being a Fitbit and the like. Google just purchased Fitbit this past week, raising all kinds of questions about what this means for the future of the industry that repurposed the watch into a multi-tasking, must-have accessory that counts steps, takes blood pressure, answers phone calls, mixes drinks and, on occasion, tells you what time it is, too.
I don't have a Fitbit–never felt the need to know my medical stats in the moment–but I did try to do as the youth do this past few days, leaving my watch on the nightstand and going chronologically naked, at least on my left wrist. By the time I'd looked at my bare arm for the umpteenth occasion hoping to see if I was early or late for something only to find two hairs past the proverbial freckle, I caved and put my Casio back on, even though it's missing the little loopy thing that holds the excess band to the device.
Is it time for me to find a new way to tell time?
The Fitbit, surprisingly, is only ten years old, and the litany of improvements since it first came out is pretty amazing as competing companies refined, tweaked and finely honed the concept. Even though all those other folks seem to have made a new thing better, most of us still call such devices a “Fitbit”, kinda like what we do with facial tissue (Kleenex) and fruit-flavored hoof renderings (Jello). Google's purchase has tech experts wondering just how safe all of your personal information will stay–will the web giant find folks eager to buy your stats–not to mention all of the other personal information you have on your wrist. The issue, says one analyst in the “Wired” article linked above, is how consumers value the tradeoff of knowing a company has all of your personal details versus using all of those numbers to make your life better.
So much about us is already out there–I'm still getting social media ads peddling me support hose after I had to buy a pair (on the web) after knee surgery–is one more portal really going to make a difference? Seems anything digital is a potential threat to our internet security. Any device that puts your stuff on the web can and will be used against us in court. Or, at the very least, to sell us more stuff.
Timex is still out there, making what we used to call watches. They tell you what time it is. Speidel is still cranking out its famed “Twist 'o Flex” wristbands, including a swanky “Romunda.” Don't know if I'm quite ready yet for a “wearable.” Maybe I need to stay in a land where time stands still, smack dab on that spot on my wrist where it's always two hairs past a freckle.