Friday, February 21, 2020

The President's Watch

a short story by Bill Adler

"Are you sure you want to do this now, sir?"

POTUS' eyes drifted in and out of focus amid the pulsating lights, his silence all the more awkward because his was the only voice not heard.

"Sir?" Dennis pushed up his glasses, clicked his pen closed and rested it on the yellow pad. He hoped the answer would be no, because maybe there was still enough time to drive home to Bethesda and see his family. "Sir?"

The president continued to stare at the map wall as if he were in the embrace of a great movie, standing still in time as the world on the screen carried on. Only when one of the multi-starred generals directly addressed him from a distance of less than a foot did the president reanimate. "Like a sleeping dog responding to a familiar voice," Dennis thought.

"Mr. President, the first missiles launched from our subs will reach their Russian targets in six minutes." The president flicked his wrist, waving the general away.

At the mention of six minutes, instinct compelled Dennis to glance at his watch. "This is how and when the world ends," he thought.

"Russian missiles will hit Washington, DC, in eight minutes," another square-jawed general reported. The president waved him away, too, and the general flew as if the president's hand had generated a gale-force wind.

The national security advisor, who was seated next to POTUS, added, “You mean ‘obliterate,’ not ‘hit.’”

The president turned to Dennis. "I want to do this now, Dan. I want to finish my memoir today."

Dennis decided not to correct the president about his name. He also decided not to tell the president that a memoir couldn't be written in a day, let alone the eight minutes they had left.

The president picked up Dennis' Mont Blanc, clicked it back open, and handed the pen to his ghostwriter. "You write down what I say. I've got great ideas and a great career, but I want you to translate what I say into book. Book is a specialized language, like being a rock scientist, which is why I have you, Dan.” He nodded. "Where should we begin?"

Dennis pursed his lips. This was no time to be indecisive. In short order, he'd discover if the bunker 100 feet beneath the White House could withstand a hydrogen bomb. "Let's start with today, sir. Tell me about your decision to go to war."

The president rested his palms on the teak table and leaned forward, as if he were moving into a yoga position.

"When Vladimir insulted my Rolex, he insulted all of America." The president nodded and thrust his arm forward so Dennis could see his watch, a gold Rolex Yacht Master, pop out from under his sleeve. "We used to be friends, so I called him ‘Vladimir.’ But maybe I should call him 'asshole' now. Nobody gets away with insulting an American institution like Rolex."

The president clenched his fist, his knuckles turning red. "He had the nerve to wave his inferior Russian watch, an Omega, on the vid screen when we were chatting last week. Insulting me to my face." The president slammed his fist on the table. The room's hum snapped to a hush as all heads pivoted to the president. "Get back to work," the president commanded. He raised his fist into the air. "Viva Rolex! Viva America! Viva victory!"

The President's Watch is the prequel to War Time: https://www.abetterwrist.com/2019/01/war-time.html. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Rules of Love

a short story by Bill Adler

“I shouldn’t even be talking to you.” Noelle let Oliver’s hand slip from hers. She stepped back to enjoy a full view of him.  He was gorgeous, the likeness of somebody painted on the cover of a romance novel. Thick chest muscles bulging through his half-unbuttoned white shirt, flowing blond hair, wide, joyful eyes. On better days, Noelle saw the two of them painted onto the same book cover.

She was no wallflower herself, but she felt like a B-leaguer in his presence.

Oliver’s heart was as picture-perfect as his body, which made her words especially hard to say. “Our parents would never approve. Nobody will approve.”

They stood on the old stone bridge between their two islands. The scent of hibiscus from Oliver’s island and the aroma of plumeria from Noelle’s intertwined, dotting the air with bubbles of fragrance that spontaneously popped. Oliver was a coffee farmer, whose morning to dusk labor endowed him with an Olympian’s physique and a perpetual golden tan. Noelle owned a flower shop, which is why she always smelled like alyssum and rose.

“I don’t care.” Oliver recaptured her hand, sending a delicate current of electricity from her fingers to her head and toes. He squeezed his eyes shut tightly for a moment. “I want to marry you more than anything in the world.” He started to unfasten his Rolex Deepsea. The metal clasp’s unclicking sounded like a sigh.

Noelle wrapped her hand around Oliver’s watch. “Don’t. Please don’t.” She sniffled. The first tears rolled down her cheeks. Oliver kissed them but couldn’t stop her from crying. Her lungs heaved. When she regained the ability to talk, she spoke in whispers, choking on her words. “You’re a Rolex clan. You can’t give that up, not for me, not for anyone.”

Oliver brushed Noelle’s lips with his as he patted her watch with his fingertips. “Would you give up your Grand Seiko for me?”

Noelle cried harder.  She wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand. Forcing a small smile, she said, “Good thing it’s waterproof, right? I’d have to ask the clan for another watch if I ruined it.”

Now it was Oliver’s turn for a tepid smile. “You’re not going to ruin a Grand Seiko dive watch with just a few tears. It’s good down to 200 meters, and your tears are no more than 100 meters deep.”

Noelle chuckled faintly. “And your watch, good to 1,220 meters.” She leaned into him, wrapped her arms around him, pressed her breasts against his muscular chest. “See, my love, they’re not even compatible. You can dive into the darkness with your Rolex, but I can’t follow.”

Oliver kissed her ear and she moaned. “What would happen if we tossed our watches into the sea?” he said. “Right here, right now?”  She shuddered, sending a chill cascading down her body. He held her closer, trying to steady her shaking.

“We can’t,” she said. “It goes against everything. We can’t marry because you wear a Rolex and I wear a Grand Seiko. And shedding our watches won’t change who we are, where we come from, and what’s expected of us.”

Friday, February 7, 2020

Your Watch in the Movies


a short story by Bill Adler

So I'm taking a wristshot and this guy in an expensive wool suit walks up to me and says, "Your watch is exactly what we're looking for to put on Brad Pitt's  wrist for a scene we're filming for World War Z II.  We're shooting a couple blocks away and I can have your watch back in no more than an hour. May I borrow your watch as a prop?"

I reply, "Of course." I'm feeling lucky!

How cool is that? My watch is going to star in a feature film. I could probably now sell my Grand Seiko for ten times what I paid for it, assuming I ever wanted to sell it, though I might not even want to ever take it off afterwards.

He gives me a receipt. I wait at the nearby coffee shop for five hours until it finally and painfully dawns on me that there is no movie, no Brad Pitt, and I'd just had my watch stolen by a con man who preys on innocent watch owners. Lesson learned.




Friday, January 31, 2020

A Child's Watch


a short story by Bill Adler

“We don’t have any more room for your artifacts.” Marie shuffled in her slippers to the bookcase on the room’s far side. “Baseball mitt. Stuffed panda. Lionel train engine.” She picked up each object as she named it. “Lego dragon.”

“Don’t touch the dragon!” Antonio yelped. “It’s fragile.”  hated when she used the word “artifact.”

“It’s not as fragile as you.” Marie rolled her eyes but left the red, blue, yellow and white dragon alone. 

Antonio walked over to the bookcase. Marie sidestepped to the bar and poured herself a martini. He examined each of the toys that she had touched and adjusted their positions so they were exactly where they had been before she moved them. 

“And that.” Marie pointed. “We’re probably the only adult couple in America with a frosted glass piggy bank filled with pennies in their living room.” She snorted. “Why didn’t you break it and use the booty to buy candy or baseball cards or something?”

“I did! This one’s just like the piggy bank I had as a kid. I dropped mine when I was eight and got all the coins. I bought a baseball glove and lots of candy.”

Marie pivoted and pointed. “This baseball glove.”

Antonio shook his head, his blond hair rustling like it was blowing in a breeze. “No. Mine was like it. A Babe Ruth mitt, but the one I had is long gone.”

Marie sat on the couch and sipped her martini. “You see, babe, that’s the thing. These artifacts from your childhood aren’t even the ones you grew up with. They’re replacements. They have as much connection with your youth as a Bewitched rerun.” 

Of all Antonio’s possessions, the globe irritated Marie the most. It occupied the largest expanse of real estate on the bookcase, and many of the countries on it no longer existed. She aimed her glass at the bookcase. “That book’s a replacement, too, right?”

“Peanuts Treasury! I grew up with Peanuts. Snoopy, especially. I must have read that book a hundred times, probably more.” Antonio’s green eyes lit up like undersea coral touched by the sun. 

“And?”

“It’s not the actual one I owned as a kid.” Antonio lowered his voice. “I wish it were, though.”

“None of these mean anything. Our living room is awash with fakes. It’s like a shop that sells posters of famous art.” Marie downed the rest of her drink. She lifted out the olive, leaned back, and dropped it into her mouth. “Can we please get rid of these things. Fill the space with some things that are, you know, normal?”

“Our friends say my childhood memories are cute.”

“Our friends are just being polite.” Marie studied her empty glass and wrinkled her forehead. “There was something you wanted to tell me when you got home from work?” She glared at the shopping bag in Antonio’s hands and sighed. “You wanted to tell me you bought another artifact from your childhood.”

“I did. But it’s small and won’t take up any space. But that’s not what I wanted to tell you.”

“Let me guess. You quit your job to join the circus because you loved the circus as a child.”

“You’re half right.” Antonio sat on the couch next to Marie. “I gave notice today. I’m quitting.”

Marie twisted her lips into a grimace. “Okay. I’m sorry I criticized your childhood memories. I’m sorry. You got me back. We’ll talk about something else.”

“I’m serious. I quit. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I’m just not cut out for finance. It’s too much stress, too much responsibility, too much anxiety.”

“Very funny.”

“Do I look like I’m kidding?”

The color drained from Marie’s face. She slumped back on the couch, brought her hand to her neck and slid her fingers along her gold Tiffany necklace. “I don’t believe you.”

“Why would I joke about a thing like that?”

“To get back at me for criticizing your romance with your childhood.”

“In two weeks I’ll start a new job. No joke.”

“What kind of job?”

“Ice cream parlor. The Magnificent Scoop on Wolf Street.”

“Are you fucking crazy?” Marie shouted, her breath hot like a desert wind.

“I’m not cut out for this business.”

“How are we going to afford everything if you fucking work at a fucking ice cream parlor.” 

“I’m going to be the general manager. I’ll make a fair living.”

Marie slapped her forehead. “Fair?” She shook her head with so much force that one of her earrings unmoored and flew across the living room. “Are you insane?”

“What I am is happier now that I’ve made the decision. We’ll be fine, sweetie. I promise.”

“Don’t sweetie me.” Marie covered her face with her hands, sounding like Darth Vador as she breathed under her palms. “We’re screwed.” 

Antonio put his arm around her shoulders, half expecting her to shrug him off. Instead, she folded into him and sobbed. He stroked her hair as she cried. 

When she was out of tears, Antonio said, “I used to go to The Magnificent Scoop nearly every day when I was a kid. I have fond memories of that place. I should have been working there from the beginning, but it’s never too late to return to your childhood.” Antonio’s smile was the opposite of Marie’s scowl. “Plus, I’ll be home earlier.”

Friday, January 24, 2020

Therapy

a short story by Bill Adler


“Please, make yourselves comfortable.” Dr. Lilly Green waved her arm toward the dark blue couch. Her office was bathed in warm, yellow light, like the hue of a sunrise. Len wondered if the wood paneling that covered the walls of the room was real. It probably was. He noticed a crystal pitcher of ice water on the table toward the left.

“Would either of you like some water?” Dr. Green asked.

“Yes, that would be great,” Len said as he hovered over the couch, flexing his knees, wondering exactly where he should sit on the three-person couch. In the middle, which would give Sylvie no choice but to sit next to him? Or should he wait until his wife sat down? If she chose the middle spot, that would mean she wanted to sit next to him, a good sign. If she sat on either end, that would signal that he should keep his distance, and would likely herald an even more acrimonious therapy session than he anticipated. Len felt like he was playing a puzzle game, only the consequence of failure wouldn't be losing game pieces, it would be losing his marriage. During the seconds that Sylvie took to decide where to sit, their entire marriage ran through Len's mind like a film on fast-forward. Rays of happiness and bullets of despair shot through his body.

"I'd prefer a vodka," Sylvie said as she sat on the sofa's far side. She pulled back the sleeve of her leather jacket and looked at her watch. As if cued, Dr. Green also looked at her watch. Sylvie saw it was a Grand Seiko. White dial. Snowflake maybe. Her own Lange Saxonia was no slouch, but she made a mental note to ask the doctor what inspired her to get a Grand Seiko, because at four hundred dollars an hour, Dr. Green could afford any watch she wanted. Four hundred an hour. Len had insisted they seek out the best of the best. Sylvie sighed to herself. It was money that could be spent elsewhere.

Len sidestepped like he was taking his first dance lesson and sat on the couch’s opposite end. He glanced at Sylvie and contorted his lips into a tepid smile. She did not return his glance.

"I'm glad you're here," Dr. Green said. "Let's see if we can make some sense about what's going on between you two and heal any wounds.” Dr. Green retrieved a chair and positioned it facing the couch exactly between Len and Sylvie. She sat down and asked, "Who wants to go first?"

Len cleared his throat, but before he let loose a single consonant, Sylvie said, "It's awful. It wasn't always awful, but now it is.” Her eyes moistened. She wiped her nose with the back of her hand.

Dr. Green leaned forward and nodded to Sylvie to continue.

“He’s lost all interest in watches. He'd rather have sex, romantic dinners, or take long walks than look at watches.” Sylvie shook her head. Tears fell.

Dr. Green passed Sylvie a tissue box.

“I suggest hunting for watches on eBay. He says, ‘Let’s watch a movie.’ I want to go to a watch boutique. He says, ‘Let’s go bowling.’ I tell him I want to calibrate a watch tonight. He says, ‘Let’s find a recipe online and cook something new.’

“I see,” Dr. Green said. She looked at her Grand Seiko for a full five seconds, then took out a cloth from her pocket and polished the crystal.

“He doesn’t even look at other people’s wrists anymore.” Sylvie glared at Len. “Neither men’s nor women’s.”

“Have you tried—”

Sylvie raised her palms. “I know what you’re going to ask. Yes, I bought him a new Rolex Pepsi. That was the first thing I tried. You have no idea how difficult it was to find one.” She swiveled her head toward Len. “Or how expensive.” She shrugged. “No effect. All he did was suggest I wear it while having sex that night.”

Dr. Green sighed. “I’m going to clear my calendar. We may be here for a while.”




Friday, January 17, 2020

The Ritual

a short story by Bill Adler

Gretchen leaned back against the cold, wet stone and shivered. She looked up at the gray sky and took Ekon’s warm hand in hers. She smiled. His skin comforted her.

She surveyed the roofless, tower that enclosed them. Some days they performed the ritual while the sun was streaming in, but most days the tower was dark and gloomy. She had heard that it was once part of a great building, a place where people and spirits had gathered and exchanged promises. Where sunlight passed through windows that were colored like the autumn leaves, making magical light roam across the floor.

Gretchen wondered if their ritual would bring back the colored light. Maybe if they tried hard enough and believed hard enough, it would. But no matter. The ritual would be performed regardless of anything that might come to pass. The ritual was the important thing.

The tower was the tallest structure in their or any village. There wasn’t much to look at, other than the stones out of which the four walls were made, a cross etched into one of the walls, and the words, “Notre Dame” chiseled into the opposite side. Gretchen and Ekon often talked about how such a place could be built, where the stones might have come from and how they’d been carried across a vast distance, and what might have happened to the makers. Some things were destined to be mysteries forever.

“Waiting is cold,” Gretchen said.

“Waiting is what we must do.”

“I know.” Gretchen looked into Ekon’s green eyes. “I’m just cold.”

Ekon slid closer so their bodies touched, his leg against hers, his tattered sheepskin chemise leaking heat that warmed her.

Gretchen sighed. “Are we allowed to touch this way?”

Ekon shrugged. “What does it matter? Only the ritual matters.” He looked up and watched the clouds race across the sky. “The makers didn’t allow touching inside the ruins, I think. But the makers are no longer here. This place's original purpose is no longer here. We have a new purpose.” Ekon tapped the disc strapped to his wrist. “The only rule is the ritual.”

Gretchen smiled and tapped the disc on her wrist. Hers was different, but still the same. Ekon’s disc was made of gold, Gretchen’s of silver. Ekon’s disc had spires that glowed in the dark, while Gretchen’s did not. Ekon’s disc had the word “Rolex” on it, while the lettering on Gretchen’s read “Grand Seiko.”

The others who would arrive when they had finished their work for the day wore discs that differed in similar ways. Some had pictures of the moon or sun on their discs, while other villagers had discs with three or four spires. Some discs were white, others black or faded green, blue or red. Some displayed numbers, while other discs did not. The meaning of these discs was unknown.

Snorting horses were the first sign that other people were arriving. Gretchen straightened her back against the wall and slid away from Ekon. Judging from the noise, some twenty people would be joining them. That was nearly double the usual number. Twenty bodies would warm the tower, so Gretchen wouldn’t be shivering during the ritual. But she was curious. Twenty? Why so many? She rubbed her hands together and blew on them.. She’d find out.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Grand Seiko Nicknames


Grand Seiko owners love to nickname their watches. From the classic Snowflake (the only nickname that was actually given by Seiko) to Ryujin, Blizzard, Chewbacca, and Red Flake, Grand Seikos are often known for their nicknames.

I've compiled a list of Grand Seiko nicknames, along with photos and reference numbers. This is a work in progress, with more to come. You can view this list here: Grand Seiko Nicknames.

Thanks to the Grand Seiko Owners Club for the photos and assistance.

Three examples are below.

Grand Seiko Glacier

Grand Seiko Red Flake

Grand Seiko Kiku

Please contact me using the contact form if you spot any omissions or errors. -Bill Adler

Friday, January 3, 2020

The Attractiveness of Anti-Magnetic Watches

I want to ask you a question and I’d like you to think about it for a few moments before reading on.

When was the last time you saw an anti-magnetic watch featured in a movie?

Me neither.

Dive watches are a mainstay of many feature films. The classic Bond movie, Dr. No, featured a handsome Sean Connery and beautiful women, but we watch nerds know the real star was the Rolex Submariner 6538 on Connery’s wrist. The 600 meter water resistant Omega Seamaster Planet played a co-starring role in another Bond movie, Skyfall. Ed Harris wore a Seiko 6309 in the underwater science fiction thriller, The Abyss. Martin Sheen’s Seiko 6105 is memorable in Apocalypse Now, and the Panerai Luminor on Sylvester Stallone’s wrist in Daylight seemed indestructible in that movie. Oh, and there’s the automatic diver, the Alsta Nautoscaph, that Richard Dreyfuss wore in Jaws.

Grand Seiko SBGR077
Dive watches are so cool that Ben Affleck wore a Rolex Deepsea in the movie Argo, which portrays events in Iran in 1979. But Rolex didn’t make the Deepsea until 2008. Dive watches evoke sensations of exploration and risk. At the office, you glance at your Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and your mind quickly tiptoes away from the annual report you’re editing to dodging a torpedo 100 meters below the ocean’s surface.

Dive watches are icons. They exude adventure.

A diver is a timepiece you associate with navigating a sailboat across the Pacific or searching for undersea treasures. But an anti-magnetic watch? Isn’t that something worn by a guy who operates a magnetic junkyard crane that hoists cars husks from one pile to another?

When talking about divers, words and phrases like “helium escape valve,” ”Mariana Trench,” and “giant squid” crop up, but when you talk about anti-magnetism you have to use vocabulary like “Teslas” and “ampere per meter,” which do not make you the life of the party.

Dive watches get all the glory, but they should share their acclaim with anti-magnetic watches.

I own two dive watches, but I mostly wear them while giving my cat a bath. Rated to 200 and 300 meters respectively, my Christopher Ward Trident and Yema Superman look cool, but as far as water resistance goes — I’m not going to ever need that. Even in the most super of super typhoons, a mere 50 or 100 meters is more than sufficient. (I speak from experience because a 2019 typhoon dumped 7,000 tons of water in my Tokyo apartment building’s basement.)

In the real world, water pales in comparison to the magnetic hazards your watch faces every day, such as cell phones, fridge magnets, magnetic phone cases, magnetic shoulder bag clasps, airport metal detectors, televisions, duvet covers, kitchen cabinet doors, your kid’s science projects, doorbells, knife racks, microwave ovens, vacuums, and refrigerator doors. Virtually every metal is the enemy.

Magnetism affects watches by magnetizing the metal parts and depriving them of their ability to move freely, making your watch as on time as the cable repairman. The balance spring is particularly vulnerable to magnetism, like a rabbit is in a field of lions.

Enter the anti-magnetic watch.

Friday, December 27, 2019

New Memories

a short story by Bill Adler

“If I’d known you were going to be weird, I’d have gone to the party with Jimmy Howe.” Emma curled her lips into a half-smile. She flicked her head to the side, getting her hair out of her eyes.  “You’re a nice guy, Ben, but you’re a little off.” She studied the window and cupped her hands into the shape of binoculars, put her forehead to them, and pressed her hands against the glass. “I don’t see anything.”

“You mean Jimmy Howe from Engineering?” Ben shoved his hands in his pockets. “He doesn’t even like parties. He’s not interested in that kind of thing. Besides, he dresses weird. Pants too high, four pens in his shirt pocket.” Ben paused before continuing. “What else did you say?”

“I said, I don’t see anything.” Emma tightened the spaces between her fingers to block any remaining light. She peered through the window of the 51st-story apartment for half a minute, turned to Ben, and shrugged. “Nothing.”

“It’s not like searching for Santa, who could appear at any random moment between sunset and dawn. We have to wait until exactly midnight, which is —” Ben scanned his Grand Seiko Spring Drive, a watch accurate to a second a day, a necessity if he was going to share the sighting with Emma, whose soft lips he desperately wanted to kiss, and whose green eyes enchanted him every time she looked his way. Ben had rehearsed asking her to be his date at their boss’ New Year’s party fifty times before working up the nerve “—in another seventy seconds.”

“If Jimmy Howe had been my date—” She held out her palms. “I know, I know. He wasn’t ever going to come to a party. But if he had, he would kiss me at midnight like normal dates do, instead of slinking off to the bedroom to stare through the window.” Emma sighed and shuffled her feet against the thick carpet, cracking sparks of static electricity. “I don’t know. Maybe I should go back to the living room and find somebody to raise a glass of champagne with in—”

“Twenty seconds,” Ben said. He squeezed her hand gently and to his surprise, Emma squeezed back.

“I haven’t believed in Santa since I was six.”

“This isn’t like Santa.” Ben lifted his other hand and glanced at his watch. He returned his gaze to the window and focused on the sky. Emma tracked his eyes, looking where he did. A faraway fluttering caught her attention. White wings mostly, though some were blue, green, and yellow. They carried themselves quickly but silently. They were flying up and north, forming a giant V against the night sky. But birds don’t fly at night…

As if reading Emma’s mind, Ben said, “Those aren’t birds.”

Cheers of “Happy New Year!” and the sound of corks popping zigzagged through the apartment to the bedroom.

“What am I seeing?” Emma pressed her nose to the window, fogging the glass as she spoke. “It looks like...magazines?” She wiped the window with her fingertips.

“Not magazines.” The flock was fading into the distance like paper lanterns carried away by a river. “Calendars. Those are the discarded calendars of 2019. It happens every New Year's, but most people are too distracted to look.”

"Where do they go?"

Ben shook his head. "Wherever our memories dwell, I guess."

Emma’s eyes opened wide. “It’s awesome.”

“It is," said Ben.

She stepped to within a breath away from him. “Now kiss me,” she said.





Friday, December 20, 2019

Do I Look Good?


a short story by Bill Adler

“How do I look in this watch?”

It was too late to duck into the bathroom and pretend to have something urgent to do. Mom, who often calls at the most random moments, chose not to call now and save me. There was nothing on the stove about which I could declare an emergency, and the dog had been walked.

It wasn’t possible to ignore Tom, because he was hovering two feet in front of me, his breath minty from just having brushed his teeth. He tapped his watch crystal. “Do you think this watch goes with my outfit?”

I tried not to appear as if I were seeing his watch for the first time. I tried to hide any hints of surprise or novelty in my face by diving deep into a distant memory of when I scraped my knees in the playground falling off the jungle gym.

Was there a hidden message in Tom’s question, a question within a question? I narrowed my eyes and focused on his watch, a blue dial something. I must have seen it before. I willed my shoulders into spa relaxation mode so I wouldn’t shrug and give away my ignorance, a gesture that could easily be interpreted as willful neglect. I feel like I’m tiptoeing through a minefield without a map.

I don’t recognize that watch. They’re all...watches.

I squinted so I could read the dial without bobbing my head forward like a pigeon. I narrowed my vision into that netherworld between where distant objects appear in sharp focus and they vanish entirely. I inhaled a hopeful breath and said, “The Grand Seiko.”

I paused. If I’d gotten the brand wrong, Tom would have said something even before the final vowel departed my lips. “I like it. Your Grand Seikos are my favorites.”

Wait! Tom’s got more than one Grand Seiko, right? I tried to manually light up neurons, but even if I could hunt down the answer in my brain, it was too late. I’d already said, “Grand Seikos,” plural. I paused again, chilled ice replacing the red blood cells in my veins.

Silence. Okay, I’d gotten that correct, too. Tom had more than one Grand Seiko.

I felt as if I were in one of those horror movies where the victims are coerced from room to room, each space containing a more hidden and deadly trap. Molten lead that drops from the ceiling, oxygen that’s sucked out, a trap door opening to a piranha-filled moat, arrows that fly out of the walls, a giant lizard with blood-stained, razor-sharp teeth that pops into existence from out of nowhere.

I took a mental step forward. “I like the way the blue dial goes with your eyes.” I sensed my pores opening, sweat leaking out.

“My eyes are brown,” Tom said. He was a statue except for his arm, which swiveled up to his head and then rotated so that the watch’s dial was positioned like a third eye.

“I mean I like how the glacier-blue contrasts with your hazel-brown eyes. The watch’s blue is too gorgeous to play second fiddle to any other blue.” Tom was wearing black jeans and an orange golf shirt. His black socks peeked out from on top of the gray New Balance sneakers.

Tom’s lips morphed into a smile.

I’m doing okay. Should I stop now? Is that all I need to say? Is liking the color sufficient? Should I be complimenting a gear or something? Think Sally, think!

“The metal strap accents your muscles.” I nodded. “That’s a good choice for a BBQ.”

Tom’s smile rose higher. His cheeks flushed. “Thanks. It’s a band, actually. Metal band, leather strap. Just terminology.”

“Gotcha.” I resumed breathing.

“I was thinking about wearing my Grand Seiko GMT. You know, the steel case watch with the gray chrysanthemum dial. It’s got a sporty, outdoors look that might be better for a garden party. I'll get it and try it on for you.”

My eyes darted to the clock on the night table. When I saw the time, my heart ramped up to half-second beats. 12:13 p.m. We’re already running late. No time to change watches.

I clasped my hands together. “This one’s perfect. It’s a daytime party, so a blue dial watch goes with the sky. Wear it. I can’t imagine seeing you in any other watch today, my handsome husband. You look sexy and stunning.”

Tom rubbed his watch. “Great. Let’s go!”