Introspective, ‘10

There are two little girls nine, maybe ten once I step into the elevator and they are giggling but not at one another but in fact at their iPhones: “And what time do you think is there in Europe right now?” the blonde asks the brunette without taking her eyes off the mobile. “Dunno,” she says and both of them resume giggling.
“Nine p.m. in London and ten p.m. in Budapest,” I say very matter-of-factly, as if not there at all. “It moves up a notch on the clock as you head East.”
“How about the USA?” the brunette asks.
“Seven… six-five-four,” I count down out aloud and tap my fingers on my thigh with each digit subtracted. “Four in the afternoon in New York. That’s Eastern Standard Time.”
“Do you work with clocks?” one of them asks me. I forget which. I just smile and say nothing in return.
The elevator stops at their floor and they get off: As the door closes the blonde girl turns back, looks at me puzzled and asks whether there’s any Daylight Savings Time in North America. “Yup,” I tell her, “Only it’s kind of backwards from here.”
“But do you work with clocks?” she insists.
“I know time.”

Much later that night I’m watching an old Woody Allen movie on TV, in black and white. The living room is dark and the blinds are half-opened so as to let some of the moonlight in: When I was a kid they used to show Woody Allen movies on TV some Saturday nights and I’d watch them sometimes alone and sometimes with my parents—
I know time, I’m saying to the little girl as if Holden Caulfield to Phoebe but it sounds a bit askew, somewhat off-centered, without direction: Suppose I could backtrack every year and start anew, and they would still come out muddy in the end
— “Not everyone gets corrupted,” says the Mariel Hemingway character to the Woody Allen character when the movie ends. I’d never get what she meant by that when I was a kid.

And I…
I made this real lousy joke the other day.
There was this photograph of my sneakers lying around my living room at 6 a.m. that I’d posted on Facebook for no special reason other than goofing around and there was this book on the floor nearby. I think you couldn’t even see the cover but Jimmy somehow spotted it dead-on and said William Burroughs made for some rather unsavory reading that early in the morning. I told him I’d rather have Burroughs for breakfast than Sylvia Plath for supper.
It remained a pretty good joke up until I realized it left a bad aftertaste in my mouth that clung for days and simply would not wear off: All in all it’s been that shitty a year.