My L.A. “family” is notorious for punctuality. Jen makes a point of getting places five minutes early. Laura gets up early just to avoid feeling rushed. I haven’t been late to work, save in the case of a doctor’s appointment, ever. Not once.

Our perpetual punctuality is represented by the inordinate number of clocks in our house. At least two per room. Clock on the walls, clocks on shelves, clocks shaped like apples, clocks shaped like cats, clocks that tell you the temperature, clocks that chirp, clocks that cuckoo—clocks of all shapes, sizes, ages, makes and models.

Yet, with all of these clocks, it’s a miracle that we get anywhere on time—all of these clocks are set to different times. Mine is the only house in L.A. I know of where you can walk from the kitchen to the den and be in a different time zone.

Most of the clocks are set ahead. Some are a smidgen behind. If you take all the different times from all of the clocks, average them, then divide by the square root of pi and add thirty seconds, you should get the right time.

Or you can take the shortcut and look at the time on your cellphone. Your choice.

When we’re all in one room, eventually the question of what time it is will arise. I’ll look at the clock over the chair in the corner, Jen looks at the apple clock, and Laura looks at her watch.




Then we’ll all look at each other blankly, and I’ll reach for the phone.

All of those clocks, and none of us knows the time. Go figure.