I always admired my father’s Benrus alarm watch. He used the alarm to remind himself of everything. It was the neatest watch in the whole wide world.
“BUZZZ!” I can still hear that sound and see Dad glancing at that Benrus, remembering an important meeting or something he needed to do. How cool was that?
On our way back to the States after assignment in Greece, our ship — the SS United States — docked briefly in Naples, Italy, where we were accosted by a young urchin selling watches on a street corner. Dad ended up falling in love with a gold-gilded beauty, and bought it on the spot. Later, as the ship passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, he said, “I want you to have this.” He gave me the Benrus alarm watch. “Don’t wear it until we get a chance to shorten the band.”
For two days I was in ecstasy secretly wearing that watch. It eventually slipped off my arm and fell overboard. Dad found me crying on the top deck that night, staring out at the cold Atlantic and our ship’s churning, phosphorescent wake. I explained what had happened. He removed his new watch and tossed it over the side.
His wrist had already begun to turn green from wearing it. “We both learned a lesson,” he said. “Let’s go get something to eat.”