Telling Time

          It’s just over four years since my dad passed away, and I’ve been thinking a lot about him. You know my dad bought me many things over the years, including my first car, but there was one present that beat all the others.
           Do you remember when you gave up Trick-or-Treating? It happened to me in 1967. I decided I was "too old" to Trick-or-Treat anymore –- although I did come out of retirement during my junior and senior years of high school to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.
           So on Halloween 1967, my dad and I were in Holiday Mart picking up stuff instead of me hustling for candy. Suddenly, as we were passing by the jewelry section on our way out the door, I spied this cool Helbros watch, a self-winding one, and I asked my dad if he could buy it for me as an early Christmas present.
           I was great at making “early Christmas present” pleas; my folks usually forgot – or more likely knew my lame plan – so by the time Christmas rolled around, I would happily score something again.
           I'd had a few kiddie watches that never lasted. One of my favorites was a Mickey Mouse watch where the hands moved to tell the time. I always thought of it as a disabled Mickey watch since one of his arms was much shorter than the other. And, true to its name, it turned out to be pretty Mickey Mouse, lasting me less than a year. I cried when that watch stopped working. I cried even more when my parents said it was too cheap a watch to spend money on to repair it.
           But back to me and my dad at Holiday Mart. At first he said nothing. I tried to gauge my chances by the expression on his face as he stared his Korean laser stare into the glass case. It looked grim for me, but you know what? He finally turned to me and said something like, “Well, since you've grown up so much that you can't Trick-or-Treat anymore, then I think you're old enough for an adult watch." At the time, it was the best present I’d ever received; I did feel like an adult when I wore that watch.
           And it kept on giving longer than most presents. That watch lasted me all the way through high school and my undergrad years at UH Manoa. Through Madison, Wisconsin winters that would dip to 60 below. Through toiling at Duty Free Shoppers and teaching at Dole Intermediate School. And then it stopped around 1985. No one could seem to fix it. I still have it, although you can't see through the crystal anymore — and there's no strap anymore either.
           So today I bought myself the first new watch I've had since 2000. It's a Seiko self-winding watch. I bought it, I guess, for me and my dad, and I hope it works forever, that it's the last watch I'll ever need.

Mahalo for reading!

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