Sunday, April 2, 2006

She paid too much for that clock

There are not many clocks to reset, most of them being embedded inside machines that reset themselves, but the Seth Thomas on the mantel needs winding. Again.

She had a number of requirements for the mantel clock, and waited a long time to get them met, not willing to settle for what she didn’t really want, even if it meant not knowing the time in the living room for over a year.

It needed to be small, because the mantel was; and short, because the chimney wall flared as it rose. It needed to be key-wound. Though she was content with battery-operated clocks in other rooms, even one electronic, whose primary job was being a radio. The universally connected ones in the thermostat and alarm box and TV and VCR are a convenience to her, but must annoy consumers in Arizona. And it must fit the room d├ęcor, an eclectic arts & crafts/deco of clean lines and dark woods. Very little falderal and a lot of deep wine colors.

In an antique shop on the road to Bennington, VT, she encountered the tiny Seth Thomas with a slightly cracked face and a very loud tick that almost ruled it out of the running. But weren’t the little old couple so nice, weren’t they so fascinated by the Internet, which allows them to do business “all over the world”? Weren’t they willing to knock down” the price they had probably increased when her Massachusetts plates pulled up to the door? And weren’t they willing to old it for her until a check could be sent (because who carries a checkbook except a couple this old)?

But she paid too much for that clock.

The tick, most days, is maddeningly loud, and the “8 day” quality means that every eight days, after it has sped itself up an hour per day, it simply stops. When it is wound, the front glass must be held still to prevent the numbers from spinning with the key and ending up all cockeyed.

Now it is sprung ahead, chattering like the old man who sold it, and somehow just as charming.

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