“An Oddity” by Harry Kuhn

As I look at my watch curious thoughts pass through my mind. It is a pocket watch, which is not typical in these days, but that is not what I think of most when I gaze at the face of the time piece. It is a white face with black, easy to read numbers and hands. It is actually the hands that draw my attention most often. Not to see the time of day but because they do not move entirely correctly around the numbers.

At the top of the hour, each hour, the hour hand is just behind the number it should be pointing at. When I first purchased the watch I did not notice this oddity and when I did it seemed like it would be confusing if I only glanced quickly to check the time. I thought that perhaps I might have wasted money buying it and that it would not be any good. But another thought struck me and my reaction to the imperfection softened.

The watch does in fact keep reliable time. It has not lost or gained even a minute since I bought it a month ago. I can, now that I am used to it, tell time with no difficulty at all. What appeals to me about this watch is not the ornate, leafy engravings on the dull steel casing and lid or even the easily-read face. What appeals to me is that this watch functions perfectly well but is at the same time just a little off normal. The hour hand showing behind the position it should be in, not noticeable at first but after closer examination clearer, makes the watch an oddity and not a typical time piece to me.

It occurs to me that this pocket watch is a good match for me. I too am a little off. I have a mental illness, but function well despite the imperfection. I have responsibilities which I meet, I do well with people in a variety of settings, I have a good reputation, I write and, to date, people like what I write. But on closer examination, I too have little oddities that make me just a little off normal.

Saying this is not a put-down; my experiences in life have shown me that most people, in their own ways, are a little off. I think the difference between them and I is that my oddities have a label while theirs do not or, if obvious ones, fall under the general label of eccentricities. Mine fall under the much more specific label of schizophrenia.

Finding this watch in a second-hand electronics store only adds to the appeal. It was abandoned in a place you would not expect to find it and sold at a cheap price. It did not match the varieties of other goods for sale although everything else in the store was also second-hand. The low price indicated the store owner also wanted to be free of it. Since I became a little off almost thirty years ago, I too have experienced finding myself in a place no one would have expected to find me, doing things no one would have predicted and, at times, feeling as though most of the people I had in earlier years been close to wanted to be free of me, too.

It is a cheap, second-hand, pocket watch that the original owner did not want and the second owner wanted to get rid of. It keeps good time and is not bad looking, but it is a little off. I have been looking for this watch for a long time.

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