The Filipino TimexTuesday, December 26, 2006
Phileas Fogg, a stickler for the exactitude of time made a mistake: He forgot about crossing the International Date Line. Because he had traveled eastward, he gained the day he had lost and won his bet. Since then, with the invention of ever more accurate Swiss chronometers and those clocks that set their time via satellite to an atomic clock somewhere in the US, time has never been so exact. Yet through Einstein we know that clocks in separate trains going at relativistic velocities will run differently or even stop in relation to each other. As time got more exact it paradoxically became relative.
Any boy, as it was in my native Argentine boyhood, who tried to wish time to flow more quickly between those 12 days of Christmas and Los Tres Reyes Magos the three wise men of the Epiphany on January 6, when Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar would fill and overflow our shoes left outside our door, would attest that Einstein was right.
We suffered those sweltering Buenos Aires summer days knowing that time would drag almost to eternity. We never questioned nor challenged the foolishness of those English-style Argentine trains that arrived at Retiro Station at 7:53 am or left my Coghlan station at 7:03 am. Argentines have long since adopted Mexican time and the usual Mexican excuse for being late, "Se me hizo tarde." This short sentence translates approximately to, "I did not notice the passing of time and by the time I did, I was late and it was beyond my control."
Aybody who has been around for at least half a century will know that time flies ever more quickly and those 12 days of Christmas go like a flicker. You decorate the Christmas tree, you sweep the needles to make it all neat for Christmas Eve, and suddenly it's the Epiphany and the tree must come down.
In 1986 I purchased a Timex (made in the Philippines) for $50.00. Its case is made of titanium. Since then I have had a new battery installed only twice. It is a very good watch and the proof is that Timex has not made that model again. It is accurate but it cannot adapt to months with fewer than 31 days. It compensates with a feature I am almost unwilling to reveal. The watch is water-proof so I wear it in the tub. It does not happen with any kind of predictable frequency but I swear that every once in a while, when I stare at the second hand long enough, it stops, just for a bit and I swear it goes backward.
What 64-year-old would not wish that those 12 days of Christmas be an eternity?