Tonight I played a board game that’s all about when things (inventions, historical events etc) happened in relation to other things. While playing, I was surprised to find out that apparently portable watches a thing before cocoa first came to Europe. I was so surprised – I would’ve guessed it was the other way around. So I wrote this little snippet. It’s probably very anachronic, as I did no research, and I think the vibe ended up much more 1800s than 1500s but hey – it’s just for fun! Enjoy!
Pocket Watches and Cocoa
The walking stick clicked reassuringly against the stone streets as Francis made his way toward James’ house. It was a pleasant fifteen minute walk from his own home, if taken briskly, and he always looked forward to it – though not as much as he looked forward to calling on his friend. He rounded a corner, and narrowly avoided being run over by a string of slightly grubby-looking boys of indeterminate age. He briefly considered yelling something suitable offended after them, but they were gone so fast it hardly seemed worth the effort.
He knew this path so well by now. If not for the strings of running boys, and carts being pushed around and other callers out walking, he could walk it blind-folded. Rarely did four days go by without him calling on James, and rarely more than a week without James calling on him. It was easier this way around, of course, on account of James living on his own and their visits there not being plagued by various and sundry family members as was usually the case at Francis’. Today, however, it had been a whole fortnight since he last called, on account of James going away to some relatives in London for a visit.
Soon he arrived in front of the facade he knew so well. Stopping at the bottom of the stairs, he pulled his watch out. It read three minutes to eleven, just about the time he’d expected to arrive. It was a beautiful timepiece with intricate patterns all around the clock face and his initials engraved on the back, a Christmas gift from his father two years ago. Since getting it, he made a point of being as punctual as possible. It seemed like anything else would be a waste of such a fine piece of craftsmanship.
A few passers-by shot him strange looks as he waited. He was quite used to it, almost always someone walked past him at this juncture and seemed to think it was rather peculiar to see the young man standing there, pocket watch still in hand. He’d taken to offering them a smiling, cordial “good morning!”, and frequently receiving a rather flustered one in return. He wondered sometimes if they mistook his politeness for recognition and became embarrassed thinking they were not recognizing someone they ought to.
As the hands on the clock face shifted to read exactly eleven o’clock, he smiled and tucked the watch safely into his breast pocket. Now safely within the realm of punctuality, he strode up the steps to James’ front door and rapped cheerfully on it. It didn’t take long before he heard familiar steps approaching. He never dallied – a fact that reassured Francis that these visits were equally anticipated by both parties. The door opened with a click, and there he was, wearing the powder blue waistcoat that brought out his eyes so well.
“Good afternoon indeed, my friend,” James replied, shaking his hand in his usual vigorous way. “Well, don’t just stand there, come in, then. I’ve got quite the treat for us today, let me tell you. It’s all the rage in London at the moment.” He chattered happily as he ushered Francis inside. “It’s called cocoa.”