Watch It

I mentioned to God that I’m going to Disneyland this weekend. It’s what I do every time the Superbowl rolls around, so she probably already knew that, but still, I like to keep her informed.

Now that I’m living up in the Bay Area, going to Disneyland is a little more involved than when I was living in L.A. In particular, there’s packing involved. I have to look through my tee-shirt collection and figure out which ones I’m going to wear. While I was making my selections, God reached into one of my drawers and pulled out an old Mickey Mouse pocket watch of mine. I’ve never really liked wristwatches, so fairly early on I switched to pocket watches. I expected her to ask me why I don’t carry a watch anymore, and was ready to tell her that it was because my phone has replaced not just my music player but has also become my timepiece.

But she had something else in mind entirely.

She asked me if I realized that a Mickey Mouse watch is an oxymoronic confluence of analogies. I thought about it for a minute and finally just said, “whatever are you talking about?” She explained it to me and now I’m going to tell you. It doesn’t have the pith of a good punchline, but it’s still kind of interesting. When we like to talk about precision, or about careful timing, we say that something has gone off like clockwork. When we want to say something lacks precision or has happened chaotically, we describe it as Mickey Mouse. So the Mickey Mouse watch embodies both the notions of precision and lack of precision, of careful execution and careless accomplishment. It is an oxymoron unto itself, yet rarely noted as such, but well, now you know.

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