When Is Noon? Back

Tik-tok, tik-tok. The clock on the wall strikes noon, and a girl that was a minute ago playing with her dolls stood up and rushed to the kitchen for a midday lunch. In fact, the clocks in the whole country all struck noon. No one ever thought about its significance, continuing to live their lives, rushing to work or elsewhere. The girl looked at the kitchen clock, wondering what is noon. She eyed the circular mechanism with an expression of inquiry, imagining it to be human-like and half-expecting an answer from it. This, of course never came, and very soon her attention was diverted to a bowl of soup her mother put on the table.


Meanwhile, the girl’s intense inquiry was carried to the clock in her room. This inquiry brought forth a curiosity, and then a wonder. The numbers on the dial slowly morphed into a human shape. All seemed to be of different ages, with ‘1’ being the youngest and ‘12’ the oldest. Yet, this did not reflect their wisdom, for it was all equal. Number ‘1’, remembering the initial inquiry called the others to her attention. “Children are, indeed, always so attentive and curious!” “And pose the right questions!” echoed number ‘2’. “Noon has a history, so who is the real one to have its title?” chimed in number ‘4’.


“I think we need to go back to our origins and traditions,” said number ‘3’ before being interrupted by number ‘9’. “We need to consider the bigger picture,” shouted ‘9’. “Noon comes from nona hora, or the ninth hour,” hinting at herself continued the number. “That is, ninth hour of daylight, which is 3 p.m.,” finished the phrase ‘3’. This number was the holder of noon throughout the times of the Roman Empire, thus, feeling entitled to the modern noon as well.


This argument of origin raised the first wave of debate among the numbers. No one paid attention to ‘9’ because, although it did have a role in the matter, it was indirect, almost disqualifying it from the title. Naturally, the numbers closer to ‘3’ supported it, while others expressed their own arguments. The main opposition was number ‘12’.


“I think it is reasonable to bring up the sense shift beginning in the 12th century, and ending in 14th. You, 3, were unreliable due to seasonal changes of hours and too complex for medieval time-keeping. I am also more practical as I announce the midday meal. People love eating more than anything! Except for religion, of course. Which, if you all remember, the sense shift also relied on the “ninth hour” prayers being set back to the “sixth hour””.


“But even in the Old English ‘non’ meant 3 p.m., following the Roman tradition!” desperately shouted ‘3’. “And yet, traditions are subject to change. People of this age need change and flexibility I provide. I reset day and night. Thus, this debate has been useless, for I am keeping noon. Number ‘3’ was about to continue the arguments when everyone heard a quiet tiptoe of the girl. 


The girl entered her room, checking the time. The usual, stiff numbers stood as they always do.