I think I am on my 6th cell phone. I lived my entire childhood and adolescence with one shared family rotary telephone and didn’t get another until college (push button) that I shared with a roommate. No answering machine. If you wanted to talk, the phone had to be free. And if no one was home, you missed the call. I remember thinking how great it was to have an answering machine. What more could anyone need? But I also remember thinking that when I got a stereo cassette tape deck that could record tapes for the car. And when I got a HiFi VCR. Yep. I was set for life.
People go through phones like Liz Taylor went through husbands. Maybe even more. It’s like status. Whip out your phone to take a call, that’s how important you are. Oh I gotta take this. Your own sounds, pictures and videos. When I used to teach at a jail, the inmates, mostly Columbian Drug dealers, would measure their status by the amount of their bail. One $ million. Two $ Million. It’s relative.
I used to carry my first phone on my hip when I danced at weddings. Boy I looked cool. The only calls I got were from the babysitter about my young kids. Your girl just got into the refrigerator and ate all the chocolate. Those were the days. A phone was a phone. You talked on it.
I guess it’s convenient to allow yourself to be interrupted any time of day or night. When I was 10, if my friend’s phone was busy, I’d just take my bike and ride over to his house. Now it sounds like some kind of strange world I used to live in, if it really ever existed at all.
I’m low on the status pole. I’ve never had a smart phone, although my new one might be, I’m not sure. I remember when I asked my eighth grade daughter if she was the only one in her grade without a phone. She said Yes. I don’t know if she was lying or not, but kids used to make fun of me for braces. And for my name. Elizabeth doesn’t have a phone, na na na na na. Poor kid, the humiliation. I got her one, the pressure was too great. Not like I have choices any more. But it’s not easy on a fixed income, while paying taxes, health insurance and child support. It’s hard to find money to spend. Especially with the price of a good phone.
When I finally got a keyboard on about my third phone, I was sucked into texting. It’s something women like especially. How I know this is because of the 70 women I dated on Match.com. They all liked to text. Imagine that with my sexy voice. But my male friends text me on my birthday, or before they call me to make sure I’m not in the shower or some other activity that keeps me from the five minutes we talk.
What did I look at when I talked on my rotary phone? I seem to remember memorizing the pattern on the linoleum on the kitchen floor. It was white with green in it. Who gets white linoleum? I was being warned about my parents but I didn’t listen. And the patterns on the curtains in my parents bedroom. They looked especially interesting in 1969 if you know what I mean. Now I can put in earplugs, listen to music, text someone else, use my laptop, build a house, drive. I don’t have to just talk and stare at the floor.
There’s an in-between phone that I don’t remember so well. But I had to go through each number three or four times to get letters for texting. Or was that just a nightmare that I was having after my VCR broke?
All my phones were not updates, though I have been ridiculed by very young women for my outdated phones. Of course they are the ones at the store who help me get my new phone. They talk to me like I have ears that are twenty-one years old. They also talk to me like I understand what they are saying about protectors, internet and insurance. I lost my third phone in the back yard and found it three weeks later. Too late. I lost all my contacts, especially that nymphomaniac from Match.com. Oh well. Shoulda got her email.
I dropped my last phone when the wire for the charger got stuck in a drawer and I was checking to see if it was done. The girl at the store said not to overcharge my phone. Why doesn’t it shut off when it’s charged? Why does it take so long? Why does it last so short? If they could, phones would hate me and laugh behind my back.
I’m on a new plan now and I’m saving money at $90 a month. If I have trouble with the phone I ask my daughter. I’ve never seen the inside of any phone manual. My reconditioned, bargain-priced iPad arrives tomorrow. I saved for months so I could have jazz charts on it. Here we go again.