When I was 16 and an awkward teen, before I grew into the 31-year old awkward man-child, I was seeing a therapist. I saw her once a week for an hour long session. In that time we talked about my relationship with my parents, my sexuality, dating woes of an emo teenager, and coping with my anxiety and depression. I’m sure all of my sessions were just riveting for her, edge of her seat style story therapy.
The one thing that bugged me about her was that every single session she would magically end us exactly 60 minutes after we began. And I couldn’t figure out how she knew what time it was. She never looked at her watch. There was no clock on the wall. She didn’t appear to be counting in her head while I chatted away my worries. How did she know when to end our sessions? What kind of therapy witchcraft was she using?
One day about year and a half into our thera-ship, (therapy relationship) I was talking about a crush’s rejection and how I knew she liked me because of how she looked at me (because I watched too many 90s teen movies) and that her rejection made no sense. “I’m not upset because I’m hurt—I’m not hurt. I’m upset because I don’t understand why she says she doesn’t like me back!” (Spoiler alert: 16-year old me was super hurt and didn’t know how to tend to my wounded ego.) In my frantic pleading to my therapist to help me understand why Ariel didn’t reciprocate my feelings, I dropped the rubber band I was fidgeting with. I bent down to grab it and that’s when I saw it.
Under the couch there was a digital clock! That’s how she knew the time without looking at her watch or ever having it appear like she wasn’t giving me her full attention. What betrayal! Suddenly I shifted my anger and frustration from Ariel to my therapist. I shouted “A CLOCK! UNDER THE COUCH!?” We didn’t have time to discuss my feelings about the couch clock because, our time was up for that week. Eventually I stopped seeing the therapist, I guess our time ran out.
[eleven years later]
I’m on a date with a woman I met on OkCupid (NoWayCupid) at a small coffee shop. It’s a boring date—we have spent more time talking about the weather than anything with depth. Finally, we begin talking about some real things. She likes yoga and dreams of building a tiny house one day. I joke that my Star Wars collection would never fit into a tiny house. She then shows off some of her [limited] Star Wars knowledge. It’s beginning to look like the date might recover.
Then, out of nowhere she says “My brother is having a baby shower today and it looks like it’s that time now.” What is she talking about? “Looks like it’s that time now…” She hasn’t looked at her watch or her phone. There is not clock on any of the walls. She hasn’t taken her eyes off me. How did she know the time? What kind of dating witchcraft was she using? I look at my own watch, exactly 60 minutes has passed since we sat down. Without hesitation, I look under the bench I’m sitting on, frantically searching for my old nemesis, the digital couch-clock. It’s not there.
She looks at me bewildered, “Are you okay? Did you lose something?” she asks.
“Oh, yeah. I’m fine. I thought I dropped…something…but…I…did not.” I say, suspiciously.
We hug goodbye and she exits. As soon as the door closes behind her I look all around me for a clock, but there are no clocks. “HOW DID SHE KNOW THE TIME!?” I yell…(in my mind, because I’m still in a small public coffee shop.)