October 13, 2010 § 2 Comments

Can a cell phone have a soul?

I asked my girlfriend Victoria that question not two minutes ago. It started, you see, with her telling me a week ago that my old cell phone, which I happily traded in for my glittering new IPhone, continues to sound its morning alarm while hidden away in a drawer in our kitchen.

Every morning at eight o’clock, without fail, the little critter sounds its smooth, jazzy tune, attempting in vain to make its presence felt. I have to admit, I’d never heard it until Victoria raised her own alarm. So I went to my old buddy with the intention of turning it off.

The problem is: it’s wasn’t on. To this day, that alarm shows up every morning at eight on the dot.

How is this happening?

Furthermore, why does the thought of my old cell phone in my drawer make me sad?

Is it my faulty psychological makeup, that causes me to bear the responsibility for the emotional wellbeing of others?

Or is it a mental deficiency, which allows me to unconsciously include an inanimate object in the category of ‘others’?

Look, I had to make the upgrade. Victoria and I decided to share our phone plans (much cheaper than proposing), and she had an upgrade which she very generously allowed me to uh, kind of, take, sort of without her knowing. My old phone had done a valiant job of keeping me connected with the rest of the world. It was a little technologically challenged- you had to load coal into the back of it for power- but it had its own special features, like call waiting, which enabled me to say to people, “I gotta get this” when I felt the conversation was becoming unappealing, like the time Victoria was tearfully telling me that I had become narcissistic and self-focused, to which I replied: “my agent’s on the other line, babe- hold that thought”.

But it’s strongest feature was something I haven’t seen on any other phone, although I’m sure it exists, hidden away to be found by only the most technologically savvy: you dial a phone number, and if the other person answers on their phone, well… you can talk to ’em. Kind of like the old phones we had when I was a kid. Sure, I couldn’t take anyone’s picture, or find out the name of that distant, faintly illuminated star while on a camping trip with friends, thereby increasing the size of my technological phallus, but so what? I was still me. A good person, who is very excellent at word games.

Who am I kidding. My life was pathetic. I needed more. My sense of self wasn’t strong enough. The IPhone would get me the rest of the way. So I did it. Screw Victoria. I took the upgrade- I would no longer be her obsequious, cringing fool. Two can play at this app game.

So here I was, standing on top of the mountain, with my IPhone 4 in one hand and Victoria’s salivating techno-envy in the other, looking on from the cheap seats with her mentally disabled IPhone 3.

Then the alarm went off. Again. Like that nerdy former best friend you ditched on your way to the top, who keeps showing up downstairs at security, wanting your attention so that he can open your heart again and make you whole. Come home, the phone was saying. You don’t need that thing. Remember the simple, joyous life we shared?

Darn it, I feel sad about this. It’s crazy. The thing is a machine. But it won’t quit. I probably should take the battery out but I’m terrified of a tomorrow that begins with that cell phone going off sans battery, along with my sanity.

I need to stop writing now. I need to hold my old phone. Just for a couple of minutes. And then I probably need to re-enact the  final scene of Of Mice and Men, when George promises heaven to Lennie, right before he puts one in the back of the big lummox’s head (for all you kids who haven’t read nor seen it on stage or screen- sorry). My little Nokia D420 (okay, I made the model name up – too lazy to go check), you’re going to Phone Heaven now. Nurse, hand me that hammer. This deep well of sadness must be closed.

I don’t get it. My IPhone was supposed to make me happy. Maybe I need a Droid.

Picture: Cell Phone Heaven. Maybe that’s actually Hell.



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You are currently reading THE LITTLE PHONE THAT COULD at Marc Aden Gray's Column!.


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