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Martha Williams

The Way It Used To Be: A relatively small problem

Reprinted from April 1993

RB and I often shattered the silence of marital bliss with bitter arguments concerning the discounting of items to relatives and friends.

Once my sister Hortence came in to buy a wedding gift. Softhearted Martha gave her a fat discount on the item she selected. I knew at the time that she did not deserve the discount, nor did she appreciate it. As if this wasn’t enough salt rubbed into the wound, RB let the fur fly as soon as she left.

“What’da ya mean, giving that stupid sister of yours that much of a discount?” he asked, putting his hands on his hips like a First Sergeant.

The Way It Used To Be: The early birds make you squirm

Reprinted from March 1993

How are you with mental images?

Let’s try this one. Close your eyes and try to picture a Siamese dancer, an Egyptian dancer and a modern dancer all rolled into one. As the image takes shape, you’ll see a person making head gyrations - you know, up and down, back and forth, etc. Add to this the twisting of the torso and the writhing of the arms and hands. Along with this unattractive picture, add two bulging eyes and a panicky expression and you’ll have a picturesque description of what faced us at the door one morning.

The Way It Used To Be: “Why Are We So Lucky?”

Reprinted from February 1993

While vacationing one summer, RB and I looked up Marvelle and Roy, two old friends from the jewelry business. Roy and RB went to watch making school together.

It sure was good to see old Roy and Marv again after all these years.

Unfortunately for them, Roy and Marv were never blessed with children, and this made RB and me stop and think about the numerous pleasures of parenthood.

The Way It Used To Be: Watchmaker’s nightmare

Reprinted from January 1993

One night I was awakened from a sound sleep. RB was tossing in bed, pulling covers and muttering to himself, I shook him gently. He jerked upright in the bed and yelled, “Where am I?”

“You were having a bad dream, dear,” I said.

For a minute he just lay there rubbing his eyes. “Bad dream? Martha, it was a nightmare!”

Then he got up and sat on the edge of the bed. He lit a cigarette and started relating the details.

“Martha, I dreamed I died and went to heaven….”

I laughed out loud. “That part alone proves it was just a dream.”

The Way It Used To Be: Eight Day Watches Have the Longest Spring

Reprinted from November 1992

It had been pretty much like any other day. A few customers had drifted in for various small jobs and purchases. I stepped from the back room and found RB waiting on a neatly dressed, grey haired lady.

“I want something for my husband’s birthday,” she said hesitantly. “Perhaps a cigarette lighter…”

“Certainly, madam,” RB said, leading her solicitously to the appropriate showcase. He offered to demonstrate one for her.

“Now here’s a lighter which has been proven year after year. Yes sir! It works every time! Just look at this lovely model.”

The Way It Used To Be: The Sensuous Watchmaker

Reprinted from October 1992

Lucy Peters, veteran watchmaker’s wife, steps off the elevator on the ninth floor of a downtown office building. It is obvious she has a problem because she constantly dabs her eyes, which are quite bloodshot and swollen. She makes her way into an office which reads: Dr. I. M. Hyer, Psychoanalyst.

“I’m Lucy Peters,” she sniffs to the receptionist. “I have an appointment with the doctor.” Sniff, sniff.

“Yes indeed, Mrs. Peters, step right on in. The doctor is waiting,” the receptionist said, motioning toward the inner office.

Still dabbing her eyes, Lucy makes her way into the doctor’s chamber. Dr. Hyer indicated she should be seated.

“What’s troubling you, Mrs. Peters?” he inquires as he prepares to take notes.

“Well,” she sobs through unrestrained tears, “it’s my husband, Wilber…”

“Oh? Please continue…”

“I’ll try. You see, I haven’t seen him for a week!”

“Ah! Another woman!” Dr. Hyer virtually shouts.

“No! No! No!” Lucy shakes her head ferociously. “I’m sure that isn’t it, we get along so well…”

“Well, perhaps so…” the doctor grudgingly agrees. “Do continue.”

“We were such a happy couple,” Lucy sighs. “Last Monday we both went to work as usual. Wilber sat down at his bench to work on the watches as he always does. Then a customer came in…”

“A woman customer?” the doctor interrupts, eagerly rubbing his hands together.

“Why no, doctor, it was a man.”

“Oh! A man… uh huh… I see…” He jots down a few more notes.

“The man had a watch he wanted repaired and all he wanted was a crown. Wilber took the watch and examined it very carefully. He told the customer it was quite dirty and should be cleaned. The man insisted on just having a crown, so Wilber wrote out a ticket for three dollars and the fellow went on his way. He was out the door and gone before it dawned on poor Wilber that the crown was for a female stem and should have been more money…”

The doctor snaps his fingers excitedly. “A female?” His eyes bulge and his brows arch in utter disbelief.

“Yes, doctor, a female stem.”

“I see…” He busily jots down more information.

“Well, when Wilber finally got a male post and a crown fitted to the watch…”

“A male post?”

“Yes, doctor, a male post.”

“I see…”

“When Wilbur finally got the male post and stem fitted to the watch and wound it up, he discovered it wouldn’t run….”

“I see, Mrs. Peters. Let me interrupt you for a brief moment here and ask you a very personal question. Is Wilber a virile male?”

“Why yes, I suppose so. What a funny question…why do you ask?”

“Oh nothing… do go on with your story.” He scribbles something on his pad.

“Well, Wilbur decided to remove the balance and spin the train, just to get the watch started again. He lifted the balance and took out the fork. He was careful to place both pieces carefully on his bench. Then he blew out the train as it spun.”

“H-m-m-m,” the doctor said. “Does your husband like trains, Mrs. Peters?”

“Trains? No, well, anyway, in the process of doing these things he accidently brushed off the entire balance and it landed on the floor in a tangled mess…”

Her voice cracked with emotion. “Then he rolled back his chair and he, he…” Her voice trails off, and she turns away.

“Take your time, Mrs. Peters,” Dr. Hyer prompts softly.

“Well he put his right foot on it and ruined the whole thing.”

Dr. Hyer is obviously unsympathetic to the consequences. “H-m-m-m. His foot you say.”

He taps his pencil, contemplating her words.

“Do you know if Mr. Peters ever suffered from a foot fetish?” he inquires.

“A what?” Lucy answers still dabbing her eyes.

“We’ll discuss this later. Please go on.”

“Well doctor that is about it. Wilber turned beet red and stalked out. I haven’t seen him since.” She breaks out in sobs again. “I want my Wilbur back.”

“Now, Mrs. Peters, I don’t think it’s all that serious. As I see it, your husband is suffering from some kind of latent sexual urge.”

“Sexual urge!” demands Lucy in marked disbelief. “How on earth did you come up with that conclusion?”

“Well, Mrs. Peters, practically every other word you’ve uttered since you sat down here was related in some way to sex. As you know, everything stems from a desire for sex or a desire for recognition. This isn’t something to be ashamed of… it is quite common, in fact.”

Lucy stares at him in disbelief. “Everything stems from a desire for sex or a desire for recognition?” She repeats as if in a trance.

“Good heavens doctor, what has that got to do with Wilbur getting mad at a watch and storming out? Sex related? I had no idea…”

“Well, when Wilbur gets it out of his system, he’ll be back. Just think this out for yourself, Mrs. Peters. Even you can see that his anger over this problem was uncalled for and rash. A grown man simply wouldn’t have let himself get that carried away over such a small incident - unless there was an underlying factor that had been overlooked. Don’t you agree?”

“Well, I suppose so,” stammers Lucy.

“All right, Mrs. Peters, you can pay the receptionist, and if you need any further assistance, do call on me.”

“I’ve got to find a way to get that job ready for that man,” Lucy mutters under her breath.

“What’s that about a man?” Dr. Hyer questions, leaning forward interestedly.

Lucy leaps for the door.

“No way you’re going to make a sex maniac out of me!” she shouts. “And from now on, I’m taking my problems to the watchmaker’s grievance committee!”

The Way It Used To Be: She didn’t know her girdle from her cleavage

Reprinted from August 1992

With all the dignity, poise and professionalism of a confident, well-trained GIA graduate, RB seated a lady customer at the equipped diamond room and then prepared to inspect her diamond ring (a gift from Hubby No. 3). She had come to us to inquire about having the stones remounted.

As she chomped away on her gum, RB held his 10 power corrected loupe to his eye (creating an impressive professional image) and gazed into the stone. The customer watched attentively and slowly edged forward in her chair to get a better look. Just as she did this, RB shifted focus for a brief moment and glanced down at the floor.