Thursday, September 27, 2012
I do not own a cell phone.
Yes, I know. I'm a troglodyte. I'm similar to the final caveman who said, "Fire? Why in hell would I want to use that? I've been happy eating raw bloody mastodon meat for years now. Why would I want to... What is it you call it? Cooking? Why would I want to "cook" my mastodon meat and then have to wait for it to cool off before I could actually eat it? You people are NUTS!"
(I could have riffed on the wheel, or even moved things into the semi-modern age by pretending to be a person who preferred horses to automobiles. Both of those probably would have been better choices, since they have to do with inventiveness and technological advancement, but I decided to go with fire because when else will I ever get a chance to write 'raw bloody mastodon meat' in a sentence?)
Be that as it may - and it no doubt was - I do not own a cell phone. Hell, I don't even know how to use one. I've borrowed cell phones from people - perhaps 3 or 4 times over the past twenty years, which shows you how often I've ever had reason to believe I might want to own one - and I've always had to ask the owner how it works. They try to show me.I then fumble around for a couple of minutes, probably dialing a few numbers that cost a gazillion minutes and also give away banking info to some guy in Albania, then they notice I'm not accomplishing anything useful so they end up dialing the number for me and handing back the phone, which I then shift from my ear, when listening, to in front of my mouth, when talking, because I still don't understand how a phone can work unless you talk directly into it, so I miss half the conversation.
Why do I not want a cell phone? Easy. I don't like being on the phone, period. I much prefer face-to-face interaction or the more relaxed conversation one can have via the written word. Being face-to-face offers intimacy. The written word allows one to compose thoughts succinctly. Phone calls combine the worst of both worlds, with inarticulate immediacy and no compensating facial expressions that might ingratiate yourself to the person who thinks you're an idiot.
Telephones tend to make me angry even without the bad conversations. It's like having a brainless barking dog in the house. Telephones make demands ("Answer me! Now! Answer me! Now! Answer me! Now! I'm not going to stop ringing, Jim! Put down your bass guitar and answer me! I don't care if you've just come up with the best riff ever that will be the basis for a million-selling song and now you'll never remember it - ANSWER ME!") and I do not respond well to demands. I am contrarian by nature. If I'm asked nicely to do something, I'll usually try to accommodate the request. If I am ordered to do something, though, I will make every effort to do the exact opposite, every time. That's why I keep our telephone in a room where I can safely ignore it and let the answering machine deal with whoever is interrupting me. Even if someone I love is on the other end, I never enter the conversation with a happy thought. And if it's someone trying to sell me something, having interrupted my evening meal of raw bloody mastodon meat, I become livid. So why in hell would I want a friggin' portable device to carry around with me so that it could annoy me 24 - 7?
And another thing, he said, knowing full well he was coming off more and more as an embittered old toad with every sentence he uttered. I find that most people who use cell phones in public are assholes. They have idiotically boring and mundane conversations at volume levels usually associated with campaign speeches. These self-absorbed dickweeds want the world to know that the trip they just made to the dogwashateria was some sort of life-changing experience. Or they're telling blatant lies. I actually heard a guy telling someone he was on AMTRAK from New York, and would be getting into town in two hours, while he was actually on a subway train in downtown Boston. Then he said, "I love you, too", while ogling a blonde across the aisle. I wanted to grab his phone and shove it up his ass on general principles alone, but then the thought occurred to me that perhaps the person on the other end was just as much of an asshole and they might deserve each other.
Yeah, phones make my sweet and charitable side blossom.
Why am I all of a sudden telling you this stuff? What brings this to mind now? I'm glad you asked.
MY WIFE purchased a cell phone. Not content to inhabit the mid part of the twentieth century with me and watch endless Life Of Riley reruns, she instead has decided to make an attempt at including herself in modern society. I am, of course, appalled. Why in the name of Satan's left tit does she need to speak to other people when she has me around? I do have to admit to a certain level of amusement, though, because she doesn't quite know how to make the thing do what she wants it to do.
First, I should tell you it arrived at our house almost three weeks ago. It sat in its box for two weeks, unopened. I considered it a hopeful sign that MY WIFE might be having second thoughts about being up-to-date. However, three days ago (or maybe four; tough to tell with my sundial) she opened the box, took the phone out, and then tried reading the instruction manual. This did not lead to joy.
I was in the living room watching a Life Of Riley rerun. She came into the room with a bitter look on her face, saying, "I can't get this thing to work. I've tried calling myself three times, but nothing happens."
I said, "You've dialed your new phone on our old phone?"
"Yes, but it doesn't ring."
"Did you try doing the opposite? Did you dial our old phone from the new phone?"
"Yes. Still nothing."
I then gave her the benefit of my entire storehouse of knowledge concerning telephones. I said, "Huh."
Usually, once an impasse of this sort has been reached, I offer my manly services. I tell her that I'll give whatever it is she's frustrated by a look-see and try to get it to work. That's what we men do. We dope things out for damsels in distress. It's what we live for, really. We love to do stuff like that. In this case, though, I held my tongue. I knew damn well that her cursory glance at the instruction booklet gave her more knowledge concerning cellphones than I'd ever have. I would not allow my manhood to be so easily deflated.
"Well, best of luck!"
She went back into the bedroom, leaving behind her a small trail of steam.
Since then, she's been more successful with the thing. Or at least that's what she tells me. I haven't actually seen her in action with it (nor would it make any difference if I did since I wouldn't know if she was faking it.) She says she sent three text messages yesterday. Apparently, at least one of them was actually received by the recipient because she got a reply. She has checked her e-mail on it, I think. I don't believe she's actually made a call yet, which is the main purpose of a telephone as near as I can remember, but I suppose that will come with time.
MY WIFE has probably started something that will end with me being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the current century. When I arrive, I'll give you a call (if I can figure out how.)
Soon, with more better stuff.