Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

CROSSROADS COMMENT -- If Marquez and Mamet Used Cell Phones

I’ve avoided writing about cellphones in my life because I don’t have a cellphone in my life. It was easy not to buy, rent, lease or inherit one; it’s more difficult not to observe the behavior of those in that vast wireless, often witless, army who have “cells” crazy glued to the sides of their faces. The more I watch people using a shell from hell the more these instruments morph into hideous facial birth marks, splat-like suppurating succubi that any self-respecting Puritan of the 17th century would immediately identify at forty rods as the mark of the devil. On this I’ve joined the ranks of the divines.

Another reason for not writing about the cell-flu phone virus that thickly blankets the nation are the (as of July 16, 2006, 9:53 a.m.) 1,646,506 blogs that came up when I hit "Google Blogs" “cellphone.” I’m certain each and every one of these blogs is more interesting than 90% of the conversations taking place this very minute on the zillions of cells at loose in our divided highway society.

You know this is true. You’ve stood on line at coffee shops, super markets, and confessional booth lines in Catholic churches. You’ve involuntarily had to listen to many urgent, must-find-listener, zombiefied calls. These calls range from the reading of shopping lists (prices and colors), the reading of lists of sins (venial and mortal), and the reading of lists of general and specific, oh, so specific, complaints (carrier service and very personal servicing). So I refuse to repeat what 1,646,506 others have already said and you know by experience.

But for the 55,678 people without a cell phone, most of whom live in sod houses on the South Dakota plains or, more specifically, the 11,439 who feel bad, left out, naked without what is apparently a fully authorized evolutionary appendage, I offer this ruse. The equipment needed for this gambit is cheap, sleek, mobile and certain to achieve puzzled, admiring, or, best yet, envious stares.

The ruse: Authoritatively and self-importantly, yet oh so casually (insouciance is what we’re after here), draw from your pocket--your pocket comb. Place this bit of tangible magic realism firmly against your cheek bone and your ear lobe and say loudly and clearly, “Damn, you’re breaking up.” Scowl deeply as you return this shape shifting device to your pocket.

I regularly use this ploy when I find myself surrounded, say at a luncheon for four, by three earnest cell users. While perusing the menu and ignoring nearby human company, they all frown and smile into space as they say, almost in unison, things like, “Yeah, I’m having lunch now.” I have no doubt that this important information is finding its way to someone, somewhere across the city, or across the room. The eager recipients of these flashed vocal epiphanies doubtlessly are equals at frowning and smiling into space.

Finally, while using your Ace Comb ("It's Unbreakable!") as cell substitute, if someone should notice that you have been stifled in your attempt to make an important call on what appears to be a cell with plastic teeth and festooned with a flake or two of dandruff, and is rude enough to confront you with, “Hey, that’s not a phone.” I suggest you Mamet him with: “Yeah, I know, I guess I desire what I fear.”

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