Essentially Ashland: By Lance K. Pugh

Expressing how cool you are is a constantly moving target. Does your skateboard jump into your hands when you dismount? Can you send a text message while riding your bike? Can you make your golf ball stick to the green, regardless of club or distance? Can you parallel park on the fly and lock your car before it stops moving?

I can do none of these things and, frankly, the world is a safer place for it. Yet, I do one thing well that makes it abundantly clear that the words "hip" and "sweet" span generations in search and praise of just how "kewl" I am.

The day that my cell phone began to broadcast the time I took off my analogue wristwatch and parked it my dresser drawer and never looked back. Why carry two devices that remind you that you are always late, yet never early, for anything?

I was, using an adopted idiom, "spot on" for all occasions, as I simply paid attention to the time that emanated from my cell phone. It was painless and, my peers, who still wore a timepiece, shackled to their wrists like a manacle, furrowed their brows and mumbled each time I eyed the digital clock as I answered my phone.

Then things slowly began to change. My vision began to morph at a snail's pace, eventually forcing me to hold the cell phone at arm's length to get an approximate reading, for at this distance I could barely make out the digits, making for awkward arrivals and disparate departures.

To offset this inconvenience, I purchased some reading glasses. They helped immensely in the rare occasions that I could find them and slap them on my nose before the need to know cooled from red hot to a dull, flat cold black.

Unless these visual amplifiers are roped to your neck they are as good as gone. They surely share genes with chameleons, as they tend to blend into the background no matter where you might place them, lost in a sea of confusion and clutter.

I counter-attacked by purchasing 10 pair and salted them about: In the cars, rooms and flat surfaces that comprise my life. Presently, all have gone missing, leaving me blissfully unaware that this column is late, again. For the purpose of writing I have solved the dilemma. I simply figured out how to make a letter as large as needed, though typing an article by seeing only one letter at a time does take practice, unfortunately for you, dear reader.

It has come to my attention that written publications, in order to save on the cost of ink, have reduced the type size such that a fruit fly doubles as a 747 and a simple piece of toast seems remarkably similar to the surface of the moon, which is where my arms need to reach in order to read the daily in your hands.

After having stepped on, crumpled or otherwise incapacitated the lot of lenses, I took another approach. I stopped reading and rummaged about for my old analogue wristwatch. Once found, it seemed to weigh a pound and its hands could be seen for blocks, which, for me, was adequate.

I took my watch in for a new battery and, predictably, was told that the needed battery went down with the Titanic, the hands were radioactive and that national atomic clock in Colorado could not speak analogue, unless connected to a 25-pound converter, which was not available, as all were pledged in our national conversion of every single television set that still could push out a proton. Who was I to stand in the way of National Security, however removed from reality?

I settled for a cell phone software application that barked out the time like a drill sergeant at Camp Pendleton. The good news is that I was never late again. The bad news was that if it was not "spot on," I would have to hit the deck and do 50 push-ups.

Lance@journalist.com was last seen wandering about town with a sundial and a compass, lest he ever be late.