Hanging with a clock collector

Ding! Ding! Ding!

It was the middle of the night, and I bolted straight up in bed, heart pounding. My husband stirred just enough to notice. “It’s all right, dear,” he muttered, patting my shoulder. Then he added sheepishly, “I bought another clock and . . I guess I forgot to tell you.”

After that, each time I’d get resettled, the new clock would chime out, as if to say, You just think you’re going back to sleep.

Sometimes I imagine a clock collector’s motto is: There’s Always Room For One More. Since my spouse began collecting the antique timepieces, they’ve taken up residence all over our home–clocks on the walls, in the halls, over the door, next to the sofa. You get the picture.

I’ve heard some clock collectors even include clocks in the family budget! Maybe a couple could make an agreement specifying a dinner date with the wife for each new clock expense he racks up.

There once was a clock couple we knew whose collection covered nearly every empty spot in their house. Once, when we were visiting at their home, I casually propped my elbow up on the back of their sofa and brushed against an old timepiece on the wall. I was mortified when the clock began to slide. The woman gasped, and I made a lunge for the clock to hold it steady. That was a close call!

As some clock collectors will tell you, the hobby often begins with the innocent purchase of a small, inexpensive timepiece . . . then another . . . and another . . . until one day you’ve got a “collection.”

At this point the collector will often meet up with someone who’s also interested in clocks, and they will know someone else, who also will know someone else. They might even join the local clock group, which will, of course, allow them to share stories with other clock-collecting enthusiasts.

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There are things to be learned, however, from owning old clocks. Like the time my elderly, outspoken aunt came to spend the night with us. Next morning, she plodded into the kitchen, minus one slipper, her housecoat buttoned crookedly, and a scowl plastered on her face.

“Sleep okay, Aunt Edith?” I asked, wondering what was wrong.

“Who could sleep?” she squawked, referring to our clocks. “Clang-clang, ding-dong, chime-chime—all night long. What kinda’ zoo is this?”

I poured her a cup of hot coffee and promised a nice breakfast.

Now we know to turn off those clanging, dinging, chiming clocks when overnight guests are here!

To be honest, I’d probably miss our old clocks if they weren’t around. There’s a certain sense of comfort in their sounds. But don’t tell my husband. Just the other day I saw him eyeing a clock at a shop in town. And you can imagine what he was thinking: There’s always room for one more!

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