Thursday, April 06, 2006
The Ugly Clock
So, I own this ugly clock. I first encountered the clock in an antique store, and from a distance, I thought it was a fairly unattractive work of timekeeping, and assumed it was fairly old. But when I got closer to it, I realized it was of more recent vintage--for one thing, it was all plastic. Also, the clock had fiberoptic flowers in its guts. But the thing that truly pushed it over the top for me, and changed it from an ugly clock I noticed in a store to an ugly clock I was willing to shell out ten dollars for, was the crude cloth butterfly glued to the second hand. The notion of the butterfly racing around above the glowing fiber optic flowers, all set within the belly of a gothic, stern-faced eagle somehow touched me. Because someone, somewhere, some dreamy young clock designer thought this combination of elements, of mean-eyed eagle, meth-amped butterfly, and radioactive flowers was beautiful.
That dreamer was wrong, of course. In my darker moments, the clock looks like the sort of timepieces that would be on walls everywhere if the Nazi's had won the war. There's something vaguely sinister about it - as if the cruel eagle of the superman has devoured the flowers and butterflies of the world, and their eventual digestion is only a matter of time.
But, perhaps I'm reading too much into this. The clock is from Taiwan. Probably, its true origins are in a tiny factory where some entrepeneur got a good deal on hollow gold eagles, fiber-optic flowers, cloth butterflies, and battery operated clockworks. Then, knowing about America only from pop culture, he figured, well, American's like eagles, right? And women everywhere love flowers and sparkly things. And who doesn't need to know the time? Thus, from the bowels of a third world warehouse, the ultimate American clock was born.
Sadly, time has not been kind to the ugly clock. The clockworks have failed. Apparently glueing a large butterfly onto the second hand wears out the works. Worse, the fiber optics don't work any more. I had to unplug it months ago due to a faint burning smell. I banished the clock to a back closet, and dragged it out today thinking I might sell it in a yard sale this weekend. When I plugged it in, the flowers didn't light up. Time has vanquished the flowers and the butterflies, now faded and dusty, as the eagle looks stoicly onward. I take some small comfort in thinking he will look stoicly onward through nuclear wars, global warming, bird flu, and economic collapse.
Speaking of economic collapse, I'm thinking of asking $5 for him. True, he doesn't work anymore. But, you know, Americans will buy almost anything, as my ownership of this clock proves.
Secretly, I hope he doesn't sell.