Some of the individuals who know me would tell you that Ol’ Lewis has yet to enter the 1990’s. Not true. I have recently plunged into the 2000’s. My bride and I, because we live in a very remote area have recently given up landlines entirely and now have opted for cell phones only, and acquire our internet access with one of those little blinky thingies that is connected to my computer by one cable, and to another thingie that is suctioned-cupped to my window with yet another cable. The term “broadband” was used. I suspect it does not mean an all-girl musical organization. At any rate, modern is me.
I have not always been the bastion of progress that is before you at the moment, oh no. There was a time, years ago, when I made the statement, publicly I might add, that I would never own a cell phone. I had watched others use them, while driving, running, shopping, eating, and dozens of other times when willing to so carelessly divert their attention from the situation at hand. I stuck valiantly to my commitment until faced by overwhelming opposition. My wife.
Considering that I am traditional by choice, purist by nature, and Taurus by birth…the acquisition of a cell phone was a huge step. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate technology. I remember living the first few years of my life without indoor plumbing or television. The wheelbarrow, for instance, I consider to be a marvelous device. The automatic coffeemaker a dramatic boon to society. It’s not that I was technologically challenged. I had been known to change the toilet paper roll all by myself, I preferred an electric typewriter, and my lawn mower had a motor. But a cell phone?
My wife, the coveted Laura, had possessed one of the instruments for some time and, on one or two occasions; I’d actually used hers. On each foray into cellphonedom, when attempting to do something as simple as shutting the damn thing off, I managed to scroll through so many menus and functions, that once NASA called me on the landline and asked me to release control of the space shuttle and go wait outside. After watching me pound away at the device like a woodpecker on meth for a while, Laura would wrest the instrument from my feverish grasp, push one button, smile sadly, and put the hateful machine away. The flash of pity I saw in her eyes would cut like a knife.
Eventually it all came to the crisis point. She was leaving to spend a few years in Afghanistan, and the dear woman announced that I was simply going to have to acquire a cell phone of my own. She and her phone would not be around to protect me when I was out on the road. I had to have one. The fact that I was a big husky, that I had been trained to dispose of my fellow man with nothing more than three pounds of C-4 and a roadgrader, that I never traveled without enough weaponry to overthrown Spain, and that I possessed enough repressed fear and anger to knock down a bus with my eyebrow, made no difference. A cell phone would protect me. Off we went to Phones R Us for a phony of my owny. When I scowled at him, the guy behind the counter seemed to sense I didn’t want to be there.
“So…what kinda phone ya looking for?” he asked.
“Ya got one with a button that says off?” I growled.
He took a small step backwards and licked his lips. “Ah, not really,” he replied, cringing a bit. “But we got one with buttons for yes and no. Yes and no are pretty simple.”
“Show it to me,” I grumbled.
“You really don’t even want a cell phone, do ya?” he asked, noticing my wife’s white-knuckled grip on the back of my neck.
“Show me the phone,” I hissed.
He did. I took it.
It really was kind of a neat phone and it really did have yes and no buttons. It was simple, direct, and devoid of games. It had no belt clip to come loose and deposit the instrument on some restaurant floor, no genuine leatherette case to get in the way, no dashboard apparatus to slash at me, no earpiece to dangle from my head or cord to wrap around my neck, no Bluetooth to impress fellow shoppers a Walmart. It was in no way a symbol to prove how valuable, indispensable, busy, needed or desired I was. It didn’t flip, flop, or flap. Best of all, after only a few lessons, I learned how to shut the damn thing off.
The cell phone I have now is a considerably more complicated instrument, roughly the equivalent of the bridge on the Starship Enterprise. At least that’s what I’ve been told. I have yet to figure out how to turn it on. But when I do…the space shuttle is mine.