Mickey and Me

by John Delach

For over twenty years, everybody with whom I have come into contact knows that I wear a Mickey Mouse watch. They usually don’t comment on it, but I know they see it. Those that do initiate a happy conversation about the of joy they take to see me wearing what is essentially child’s time piece on the left wrist. I first began to wear it as an adult and I still do as a senior. I enjoy these conversations as much as they do, especially those special people who proudly reveal that they too are wearing Mickey on their wrists.

I didn’t always wear a Mickey Mouse watch. Growing up, I wore working men watches like Bulova or Longines and later Timex. My watch wearing joined the Big Leagues when my father presented me with an Omega Constellation at the lunch he hosted for me, my mom, and my future wife, Mary Ann, at the Officers Club at the Brooklyn Navy Yard when they still built warships there.

The lunch followed my graduation ceremony from St. Francis College held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. John, Sr. who sat in the balcony couldn’t resist telling me that his perch gave him a bird’s-eye view of the fact that the hair on the knob of my head was thinning, a sure sign of future baldness.

I thanked him for the watch and I silently cursed him for his unsolicited and deliberately cruel comment about my thinning hair that merely confirmed his S.O.B. status.

But I did love that watch that I wore for many years. My crowning moment wearing it came when my bosses at Marsh & McLennan assigned me to the Exxon account as their marine broker in 1978. At that time, our principal contact point with Big Oil was through their in-house insurance company called, Ancon, domiciled in Bermuda. Ancon’s president was Trig Tonenson, a senior financial professional at Exxon.

As I sat down in his office for my interview, I spied that he was also wearing an Omega Constellation. Slowly, I let him see that I also wore a Constellationt. No mention was made of this, but I believe this coincidence helped him to decide to accept me as part of Marsh’s Exxon team.

Unfortunately, as my Constellation closed in on its twentieth-birthday it became erratic requiring me to visit Tourneau for several expensive repairs. Eventually, not even the sacrament of Extreme Unction could keep my Constellation ticking.

My sorry state of being without a watch coincided with my approaching 25th anniversary at Marsh & McLennan. I decided to pay a visit to my buddy, Rich Mikulak, in our Human Resources Department to see if I could pick out a watch for my anniversary.

I explained to Rich: “I know firms have gotten away from the tradition of awarding members a watch to celebrate their 25th Anniversary of service, but I’m a traditionalist. My question to you is, do you have a specific jeweler I can use to get a discount on a watch I really want?” 

“John, I have to inform you that since you are a Managing Director (MD) at Marsh, you no longer qualify for a 25th Anniversary gift. Bob Clements, the firm’s President, has decreed that MDs would receive a clock on their 30th Anniversary.”

“Rich,” I replied, “Of course that would be the rule and do you know why? It will be just my f***ing luck that I won’t make thirty-years! I won’t get a watch and I won’t get a clock either.”

As it happened, I retired on April 1, 2000 and missed receiving my clock by sixteen months!

In August of 1996, our adult family made a trip to Disney World. We brought our son and daughter and their respective fiancée and fiancé and had fabulous time. At one of our dinners, they presented me with Mickey One, my first authentic Mickey Mouse watch. When his little arm is on the two and his big arm is on the twelvw; it’s two-o-clock!

 From the moment I strapped it to my wrist, this Mickey and his successors are the only watches I wear. Yes, Mickey One has had many successors in the last 26-years. I quickly learned that it would cost more to replace the battery than to replace the watch. Today, I wear Mickey Eight, or is it Ten or even Thirteen? I have lost count.

My current watch is an oversized version of the classic design. Because of this Mickey’s  size, comments on my watch have increased. This makes me happy as I know the joy he brings to other people.

Long live Mickey!