by Mike Crawmer
It took a six year old to embarrass me into joining the 21st century.
Last month, the electrician rewiring my second floor locked me out of my house. Luckily, my neighbor, Lee, got home from work as I fiddled fruitlessly with the unyielding front door lock. Bless him, I thought: Lee has two things I need right now: the electrician’s phone number and a cell phone.
Ah, yes, a cell phone—that ubiquitous appendage that I never needed or wanted for any number of good reasons:
First, my mom doesn’t check on me day and night to see if I’m eating my vegetables, keeping my pants up on my hips, using a seatbelt, and limiting my intake of adult beverages.
Second, I’m not on call 24-7 at work. My job can be interesting, but no one’s life depends on whether I chose a flash graphic or a static graphic for a web page I’m creating. I’m not a “senior vice president and most-high pooh-bah of this and that,” so no one needs a piece of me every minute of every day. And I’m several layers removed from whiny, needy, oh-so-annoying clients.
Third, I’ve never felt the need to chatter on about digestive problems or creaky knees, gossip about the neighbors’ grandson who got his teenage girlfriend pregnant, or commiserate on treasury bond yields, contractor scandals in Iraq or what Ellen was thinking when she gave that damn dog to her hairdresser. Also, I’m not cheating on my spouse—which I assume many of my coworkers are doing as they hurry out of work, their cell phones plastered to their ears in urgent, secret conversations.
Fourth, cell phone owners seem to feel they have to use their little toys to send text messages, take photos, keep lists and calendars and God knows what else. For one thing, I don’t communicate in code. If someone sent me a text message that said, “AYT,” I’d (1) ignore it or (2) call them back and ask them what's their problem with the English language.
But all that was BH--"before Hunter.” On that fateful October day, Lee lent me his cell phone, then he walked across the street to retrieve his son from school. When they returned I thanked Lee profusely for saving my butt. In his son Hunter’s world, my predicament made no sense.
“Why doesn’t he use his own phone?” six-year-old Hunter asked.
“Because he doesn’t have a cell phone,” Lee said.
“Then how does he call people?” Hunter asked, looking at me with an expression that said, “What planet’s this guy from anyway?”
“He has a phone in the house,” Lee patiently explained. He could’ve said “Locked in the house,” but he’s younger and nicer than me.
Two days later I got my cell phone. Don’t try calling me unless you’re an agent who wants to represent me or a publisher who has a contract she wants me to sign for my mystery series. Otherwise, the phone sits unused on the kitchen counter. I’m only going to use it for emergencies, or maybe when I’m driving to D.C. to visit the family, just to tell my sister I’m on my way and maybe check on the weather down there and find out what’s for dinner or are we eating out and did she hear from brother Steve yet and how ‘bout dem Stillers.....