You’ll never guess what I left my house without the other night.
If your first thought was “pants,” what the hell is wrong with you? Or, perhaps more accurately, what the hell do you think is wrong with me?
What I left my house without was my cell phone.
Many of you are probably thinking that I not only left my house, I left the current century. Well, I’ll have you know that I own a state-of-the-art-as-of-two-months-ago iPhone 5, and that I am very proficient with not even one feature of it.
Yes, I feel obligated to carry it should I leave my home during business hours, but otherwise I don’t usually have it with me because, frankly, there’s no one I want to be in touch with who can’t wait until I get home. So if you call me at night or on the weekend, leave a message. And, by the way, leave that message on my answering machine at home, because I sometimes don’t even turn on my cell nights and weekends. I’ve had people send me texts on a Saturday that I didn’t know about until Thursday, and that was only after they sent me an email wondering why I didn’t respond to their text.
I sincerely believe that cell phones are the scourge of our society, and that they have done absolutely nothing to improve our quality of life. Sadly, there is an entire generation of people out there who do not know this, because they have no idea what life was like before cells.
They do not know, for instance, that there was a time when…
- If someone in a car appeared to be having an animated conversation despite being the vehicle’s only occupant, she was likely to be a genuine crazy person.
- If you were standing at a urinal in a public restroom, the guy standing next to you would not be checking his email while peeing.
- You could have a legitimate trivia contest in a bar without everyone looking up the answers.
- You would have to wait until you got home before you could let people know you were out.
- Hearing the theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark did not mean you were getting a phone call.
- Families wouldn’t talk to each other at dinner because they were all watching a TV show together, not because they were all texting somebody.
- If you were having a “hands-free” conversation, it meant you weren’t Italian.
- You would burn your thumb when you went to a concert because you kept your Bic® lighter on too long during the encore. (Note to self: App idea. A video of the flame on a Bic lighter for when people hold their phones up at concerts.*)
I’m reminded of this last one because a concert is where my wife Barbara and I were headed when I left the house without my phone the other night. (Remember–way back at the beginning of this post, when you stupidly thought I went out without pants?) Barbara was driving as she usually does because, while we are equally bad drivers, I’m a much better passenger. As soon as we got on the highway, her cell phone rang, which is to say a disembodied voice suddenly started coming out of the dashboard. It was a client of hers, and I got to listen in on the conversation because, really, where was I going to go?
- Client: Are you at home?
- Barb: No, I’m in the car with my husband.
- Client: Can you call me right back?
- Barb: I’d still be in the car with my husband.
- Client: Can you pull over?
- Barb: Not really. I’m on the Merritt.
- Client: Oh, well, can you take down a phone number?
- Barb: Well, I’m driving…
- Client: You’re driving? (Note: So much for women’s lib.) Can your husband take down a number?
- Barb: I don’t know if we have a pen. And it’s kinda dark. Can I call you back first thing in the morning?
- Client: Oh, sure.
See? That’s the thing. There was nothing Barb was going to be able to do with that phone number until the morning anyway, but the client had to get the information to her right then. Why? Because she could.
At the concert, which was at a small venue, I actually saw the opening act sneak a peak at his cell phone while he was on stage. I think maybe he had his set list on it, instead of taping it to the side of his guitar like the good old days. But who knows? Maybe some opening act groupie was sexting him from the audience. Or maybe Anthony Weiner was.
We were sitting in front of what we think was a row of college girls, although we’re not exactly sure, because we are no longer able to discern the age of anyone under 30. Throughout the entire show, one of them appeared to be keeping a running commentary with her thumbs. Or perhaps she was writing a novel 140 characters at a time. Or maybe she was just using her thumbs to keep time with the music. (Note to self: Another app idea: the thumb drum!)**
And remember when you used to go to a concert and they’d make an announcement that the use of recording devices was strictly prohibited? Ah, such innocent times! I recall security guards actually relieving people of their cameras because they snapped a photo of the performer. Now they’d need an entirely separate building to store everyone’s various recording devices, because pretty much everything is a recording device, including people’s eyewear. And remember how naughty and accomplished you used to feel when you found a bootleg album of your favorite group? This concert was probably on YouTube for you to enjoy the next morning, if you don’t mind watching a performance from a stationary angle with sound quality that is reminiscent of a 1960s-era transistor radio.
So, yes, I left the house without my cell phone. And if you ever call my cell at night or on a weekend, you’re just going to have to leave me a voice mail.
I may one day figure out how to retrieve it.
*Oh, for crying out loud.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>