My father is in charge of time.
He sets the clocks in our house and none of them ever read the same. The alarm in my parent’s bedroom is 15 minutes fast. The whit portable in the bathroom is 12. The pendulum clock in the kitchen is 10 minutes fast and the dashboard clock in our car is 5.
My father needs the adrenaline that comes from feeling late to help him jump out of bed in the mornings. It makes sense as for him it’s a straight forward trajectory through the house. He gets out of bed, showers & dresses in the bathroom, eats breakfast, the exits to the car.
My mother’s trajectory is the reverse. She starts in the kitchen making toast, eggs and tea. While we’re eating she gets a turn in the bathroom. After, she checks on me in my bedroom, a no man’s land without clocks or watches. She re-buttons my mis-buttoned school blouse as I beg her to, “Tell me a story your mother told you when you were a little girl.” I always try and drag out the morning before I have to go to school.
It’s not until she’s back in her bedroom pulling fresh underwear from the chest of drawers that she catches sight of the side table clock and realizes she’s late.
But how late?
Who the f*ck knows!
My mother, being German, has always had a deep respect for time. She abides by its dictates and in return it has barely touched her face and skin. But living with my father has turned her world upside down.
She rushes past us as in the hallway,
“What’s the number for time?”
I recite by heart time’s 1-800 number listed in the phone book as she frantically dials.
My father shakes his head, “Dagmar, just accept what the hands say and go with it.”
My mother yells back. “Thomas, why can’t you would leave time alone?”