This Ol’ Watch

This Ol’ Watch – throwaway 640 words when you watch Pulp Fiction again because Chuck Berry died and you want to tell a dramatic and half-comical story about a watch. 

“Hello, little man. Boy, I sure heard a bunch about you. See, I was a good friend of your dad’s. We

It is a Timex Ironman watch, bought by my grandmother at a Target somewhere in Westchester County.

The Timex Ironman series is the blue-collar watch of the running world. In a land of Garmin GPS contraptions and Nike Fuel Bands, it is the Toyota Corolla that runs forever and shows no signs of opulence. Everyone seems to have had a Timex Ironman once. Everyone comes from somewhere, after all.

When I bought it, I couldn’t really write and I couldn’t really run, but the steadiness of the Timex’s existence forced me to do both. I have no idea why I enjoy writing about running, but the watch kept time regardless, and thus I must respect it. The watch has never failed me, even though I have failed the watch. I have never replaced the battery, or the band. There was never an issue with water damage.

This watch, as Christopher Walken would say, was your birthright, and I’d be damned if I were ever caught without it. You can scroll through my pictures, the supposedly lost Snapchats…the navy blue Timex is there, unflinching, unbending through perhaps 10,000 miles of human-propelled movement over the years. I am probably underestimating that number.

Like all good watches, it has history. I blinked. I received a Polar watch with a heart rate monitor for my 16th birthday and wore it for about 8-9 months. It just never worked out. I never wore the cumbersome heart rate monitor. I gave the blue Timex to my sister, who took it and wore it well herself for a season of track. I abandoned the Polar and bought an inferior sky blue Timex with a thin, crappy band. I used that for a few months before giving that watch to my sister and recovering the old blue Timex Ironman and sticking with it for the next three years.

My sister never forgave me for taking “the good watch” back. She had to buy another watch of her own. Meanwhile, the Timex Ironman saw me through another three high school seasons, a half marathon, a full marathon, three birthday runs (18, 19, 20) and all the heartache and joy in between. The watch went to at least 23 U.S. states.

It’s extremely corny, but that watch was simply a part of my body. The bond between good watch and flawed human is strong. The quiet servant takes splits, times runs, and does nothing else. It will never be stolen. I was not careful with it. I have lost the watch at least 12 times, once at a retreat center where it was picked up by my friend Alex and handed back to me two weeks later because it was useless to anyone but myself. The numbers kept ticking by. It’s not the watch’s job to take care of its owner.

I received a GPS watch for my twentieth birthday. My parents bought it for me, knowing that I would have no use for a luxury item. I am eternally grateful to them, but I just figured I’d keep the blue Timex running until the end. The GPS watch is nifty, but not the same. It must be charged every night. It needs maintenance. This new watch needs me, which is an odd scenario after surviving with the most aloof piece of timekeeping technology yet known.

I will save the watch for workouts and practical reasons. And someday, I figure, it’ll either die or I’ll pass it on to some new runner who needs to borrow it for an afternoon. I’ll never ask for it back, and it’ll probably go out with the trash a few years past. But it is a good watch, and if anyone want to take it from me, I am willing to pass it along.

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