Normally staid timepiece said to have been seduced by the danger of illegal ticking and not ticking.
HE TEAM OF journalists at the long-running CBS favorite, 60 Minutes, are not the only ones taking a break from the show during summer reruns. Unnamed sources have revealed that the news program's famous ticking stopwatch was arrested recently as an accessory to illegal cock fighting "in some guy's garage" in Bayonne, New Jersey.
Although the timepiece, affectionately nicknamed "Stanley," had for years toured the country as a stopwatch for greyhound races during the summer months, his descent into illegal gaming "came as a shock" to his long-time colleagues, according to 60 Minutes' Leslie Stahl.
"I think Stanley just went a little crazy," said Ms. Stahl. "He reliably ticks down the hour for us week after week, never even pausing. And a stopwatch, as you know, has a button, and that button needs to be pushed. I guess legal racing just wasn't enough of a thrill anymore."
Reporters caught up with Stanley's greyhound trainer at a raceway in Canton, Ohio. Jim Lever clicked his stopwatch every time his hound completed one circuit.
"Stanley's a natural at this," said Mr. Lever, holding out a timepiece he identified only as "one of my other stopwatches."
The veteran trainer admitted that Stanley "was always a little rusty the first week or so," but quickly added, "who wouldn't be, just getting clicked once a week for eight months in a row? That's no life. But he caught on real fast each summer.
"Personally," Mr. Lever continued, "I think Stanley prefers the the feel of a thumb on his button to the big money he gets just ticking away there on 60 Minutes. How else to explain getting no money for starting and stopping illegal cock fights in New Jersey? I told him to be careful, cuz I've seen it before. You know, ticking, not ticking, on-off, on-off. It's addictive, especially in a garage with a couple roosters. And sure enough, now Stanley's in the slammer."
Leslie Stahl confirmed that CBS will provide bail money for Stanley's release, "but only for this one time. And it's coming out of his salary for next seasonif he swears off cock fighting, that is."
Ms. Stahl hinted that an intervention was a possibility. "You know what we can do to people on our show with one well-placed question and a close up. And Stanley knows, too."
© 8.12.09 Kate Heidel