The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cellphones yet again, I fear, or fishing in the deep blue sea for stuff

I have mentioned a number of times here that I do not own a cellphone nor do I intend to buy one any time soon, I will pass over the reasons for this ongoing personal Luddism, except to say that if you notice that my continued lack of a cellphone makes it impossible for you to call me whenever you feel like disturbing me with whatever niggling little problem you are having at the moment, and if you suspect that this unwillingness to listen to you chew my ear off morning, noon, and night might be deliberate, indeed may even be the point of my not having a cellphone in the first place, then in the interest of personal verisimilitude I should say that you might be right. 

I bring this tiresome subject up yet again because Ms. B., a knowledgeable young woman of my acquaintance, has evinced an interest in buying a new cellphone. This, in and of itself, is not terribly important; people buy new cellphones all the time—I suppose that suppressing the traffic in cellphones is impossible now, much as I would like to try—but this new cellphone is for those people who not only want to take their cellphones to the beach, but also take the pernicious little devices into the water with them as well.  This marvel of aquatic telephony allows the lucky owner to call and annoy his friends and neighbors as he lays on the beach in the south of France, a prospect most vacationers look forward to whether they want to admit it or not, and it also comes equipped with an excellent camera and Internet capability. These amazing and, one assumes, very costly extras permit our peripatetic caller to indulge his hopefully temporary bouts of summertime sadism, wherein he tells his unfortunate acquaintances who are not lying on the beach in the south of France enjoying the fun and sun of their misfortune, and then further complicates matters by sending these same unfortunate wretches photographs of what they are missing.  They will ooh and ahh and say isn’t the south of France beautiful this time of year and tell him that they hope he is having a wonderful time, and they will be calling him nine different kinds of rotten bastard after he hangs up; people are like that, you know.  His friends, assuming that they are still his friends after he calls, do not want to have their noses rubbed in his good fortune.

As for me, I don’t really see the point of taking a cellphone into the water with you, unless you want it nearby so you can call a lifeguard and let them know that you are drowning. The problem, as I see it here, is that by the time the lifeguard figures out what you are trying to say between the screams for help and the frantic gasps for air, you’ve already drowned and the whole exercise is therefore pointless, and to make matters worse, you’ve lost your cellphone too.  Assuming that you haven’t drowned, you are now stuck in a place you will now permanently associate with a traumatic near death experience, and not in a positive manner either. This may or may not be a good thing; you will never go back to the beach, but your local ski lodge will appreciate your business, at least until you cause an avalanche and lose your cellphone there as well.  Faced with being cellphoneless for perhaps the first time since the invention of cellphones, you must ask yourself, what do I do now? 

Clearly, you will have to replace your cellphone, and having spent more than you really should have to get the first one, you may not feel the need or have the means to buy another waterproof wonder phone. You may just chalk this one up to experience and tell yourself to buy a new and cheaper cellphone that you won’t be tempted to take into the water.  After all, you can’t lose your phone in the water if it's not in the water with you, but this, of course, requires that you learn from experience, which is something most people are loath to do until the Internal Revenue Service makes it necessary. And what of all those people you want to talk to and who have nothing better to do with their time than talk to you?  Well, they will just have to wait, won’t they?  You’ll be doing something more important with your time.  What that something more important with your time might be is entirely up to you, but whatever this something more important is it had better not require my looking at any pictures of the south of France that don’t have me in them.  Do something else with the damn thing.

This, however, does not solve the problem of the missing cellphone, which, because it is waterproof, is still usable, even if Saint Anthony of Padua is the only person who knows exactly where it is.  This could still be an expensive proposition, though.  For example, you might open your telephone bill at the end of the month and find out that you have made phone calls to at least eighty-five people in Australia and twenty more to people in Astoria, Queens. Upon investigation, and you will investigate because you are not paying a two thousand dollar phone bill, no way no how not going to happen, as you maniacally screamed at the telephone company’s payment department’s somewhat English-speaking representative in Bangalore, you learn that a Greek fisherman slit a bluefin tuna’s belly open somewhere off the coast of Crete and out fell your now not lost cellphone, and he promptly used it to call all of his relations everywhere in the world. And then he looked at porn, a lot of porn, more Greek porn than you ever knew existed, which only proves that you don’t get around very much and that fishing is a very lonely business.

And this is just the best-case scenario. What happens if something else uses your cellphone?  Dolphins, for example, don’t have access to a phone most of the time, but when they do, they enjoy using their prehensile penises to make obscene phone calls to female police officers, especially in California; why California faces this problem more than other places is the subject of ongoing research, but early and very tentative results from a UCLA study suggest a linkage between obscenity and police pensions in that state. Most fish have no use for a phone, cell or landline, but hermit crabs will have no compunction about using your phone to call their realtors.  The fight for better underwater housing is Darwinian in its intensity and the recent housing crisis doesn’t seem to have affected the hermits’ race for new and roomier homes; they want what they want and they’re going to get it no matter how far in debt they have to go, an attitude I’m sure the bankers loved just a few short years ago, but one that few people can afford nowadays.  That the hermit crabs still act this way shows how economically unrealistic some species can be, no matter how awful the market is.  As P.T. Barnum didn’t used to say, there’s a suckerfish born every minute.

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  • At 2:55 PM, Blogger Dick Stanley said…

    I have a cell phone, one of the ancient stupid ones. But I keep it in the car for emergencies where the battery inevitably goes flat and so it's dead as a Coptic Christian in Cairo when I need it.


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