For whom the cell tolls? Me.
In my Big Idea File is the kernel of a column that I’ll never get around to finishing.
The premise was simple (but, you know … brilliant): How different would famous moments in history have been if cell phones had been around?
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for … um, hang on, I gotta take this call. Marilyn! Are you at home? Can I call you right back?”
“Fourscore and seven years ago, our…”
“Um … fourscore and seven years…”
“Look, didn’t you hear the announcement to switch your phones to vibrate mode? Yeah, you … in the hat.”
“How blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit … um, hang on, I gotta take this call. Judas? Are you at the office? Can I call you right back?”
The thing is, I can’t finish that column because I am, as of just a few days ago, a cell phone owner. I know what you’re thinking, and I appreciate your condescending welcome into the present century.
I’m no Luddite. I have no problem filling my life with as many electronic gizmos as possible, but I’ve just never really needed a cell phone. And I knew that when I finally did get one I would be hooked, no turning back, forever shackled to the cellular. Kinda like e-mail – hard to imagine how I lived without it.
So I held out until just last week, and the moment I touched my new lifeline for the first time, I could see my future flash before me in a way that would have made Stephen King proud. I was destined to do, and even become, everything I’ve ever hated about cell phones and their users.
I could see my phone going off in the middle of a theater because I forgot to turn it off. I could feel the angry stares from those around me who were trying to enjoy “Garfield the Movie.”
I could see myself talking on my phone at Who-like decibels in quaint little coffee shops where people were trying to commune with their laptops and MP3 players.
I could see it all. Blathering total crap while out for a hike. Terrifying cyclists with my gargantuan, swerving SUV while checking my voice mail. Yelling “Sell! Sell! Buy! Buy!” into my tiny phone in restaurants even though I have nothing to sell or buy.
As an occasional AV Guy, I used to delight in watching people whose phones went off in the middle of darkened-room meetings. First you’d hear the squeal of a Beethoven composition – at a volume that even Beethoven could have heard – then some poor soul would jump up and race toward the exit door, hunched forward, whispering a loud “hello … hang on a minute” into his phone. Their gait reminded me of Groucho Marx making his way through a sniper zone. Hilarious.
I took it all in, delighting in their embarrassment, noting that electronic progress was actually causing a reversal in evolution – these people moved like Neanderthals down the center aisle in hopes of not being seen. And all the while I sat smugly in my cell-free tower, laughing my little pay-phone-using head off.
As I stepped into the street with my new cell, I could feel the door to that particular wing of mockery slamming shut. Soon, no matter how hard I tried to avoid it, I would find myself hunched over, racing from a room to take a call. I know it. I can feel it. Live by the mockery, die by the mockery.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Categorically ordinary, rocks do seem rather simple, writes columnist Britta Gustafson. And yet their stability, the longevity of their movement on the surface of our planet, is awe inspiring.