Fishman: Celling myself short 

A month ago, with one foot in the last century and proud of it, I was a Luddite, a nonbeliever, a doubting Thomas, road kill on the information highway. I was primitive woman, hear me roar. That’s the positive spin. Underneath all those refusals to bow to pressure, to Madison Avenue persuasion, to common habits, I was a bonehead, a dunce and a dimwit.

Stubborn and intransigent, I blundered along, proud of my decision, proud of my resolve. Along the way, some people politely suggested a 12-step program for rigidity; I refused. Others said they’d pray for me. Still others, bored with my cant, gave up altogether, leaving me to simmer in my own juices. “It’s your life,” they would say, meaning, “Your loss.”

But fear not. I have seen the error of my ways, made some adjustments and am on the road to recovery.

I have, in short,  embraced the world of cellular phones. Free of my land line, the twisted cords, the desk, the chair, the heavy weight of the receiver, the tethered position at my home, I have become mobile, open to possibilities, able to travel the world. Now me and my Nokia are one. One unit. One entity. One being. Do not try to come between me and my mobile. You will not win.

My hand is cramping like everyone else’s from carrying the thing. My neck aches from the stretch. My pockets bulge with a charging device, which I carry everywhere.

But I have my standards. I will never strap the phone to my waist like some nerdy engineer who would never go out of the house without his or her pencil protector in a breast pocket.   Since I rarely carry a pocketbook that means lumps in my pockets, not good for one’s shape.

N’importe. Doesn’t matter.  Not if it means I know where my phone is.

I do not speak loudly. When I get a call in Kroger’s, as I did the other night, I find a corner in the produce section and try to keep my voice down. (It’s hard though. I wanted to tell the person everything I was seeing. I was that excited.)

I do not give my number to just anyone. (I can see how that is changing though as people tend to pass along numbers).

I do have a terribly annoying ring tone, nothing like the “Hava nagila” tune - a Jewish folk song meaning “Let us rejoice” -  my cousin Andy chose.

I’d like to say I don’t speak while driving. But that would be a big fat lie. I love talking while driving That’s the most fun time to call someone else. For years I complained about people dialing me up when they were stuck in traffic or driving along the Mississippi Delta.

“Just wanted to say hi,” etc. Yeah - and pass the time while you were stuck in the car. What about me? I was busy, doing meaningful work.

Now I do the same thing. Because what a good time to catch up with someone! Who cares if they’re busy.

For the longest time I railed against the cell phone (which usually means I’m about two years away from joining the masses). Like everyone else before me, I offered all the usual excuses. I don’t like talking on the phone. There’s nothing that can’t wait until I get home. My life is not that busy, not that complicated. Who needs one more thing to keep track of?

Apparently, I do.

Now, like everyone else I mocked and criticized,  I’m having intimate conversations while walking my dog in the park, calling my insurance company from behind the wheel of my Taurus station wagon (got to do it while I’m thinking of it), dialing a friend to say, “Hi, I’m on my way”

- just the thing I used to hate hearing when someone was three minutes away from my house.

Now that I am so weak and undisciplined the only way I’m going to find a way to relax is to plan a trip to a place like the Boundary Waters in Canada where the phone is out of range. A friend went paddling there last week and couldn’t believe how many times he reached for a phone he wasn’t even carrying.

These days the first thing I do when I wake up, finish a shower, leave the gym or  exit a movie theater is to check my phone. Just in case, you know. Might be something really GREAT, really important. Kind of like my E-mail folder I check about every 15 seconds. But to be honest, I’ve started sneaking looks in the movie theater and taking the phone into the gym. I pretend it’s for the clock, which is a crock since I haven’t worn a watch in years.

It’s a little embarrassing eating all this crow in front of a friend I once convinced to give up her phone. “Too stressful,” I said to her.

“Give yourself a Christmas present. Lose the cell phone.”

What on earth was I thinking?

About The Author

Jane Fishman

More by Jane Fishman


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