Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Love Means Never Having to Change Your Number

In honor of the rapidly approaching 9th anniversary of my use mobile telecommunications I would like to look back upon one of the longest standing relationships I've ever had, my Cellphone Affair:

Part 1: The Honeymoon Period

My sleek little  portable communications device came into my life  neatly wrapped in happy smiling Santas and  tucked under 1998's Christmas tree.  Almost a decade later it is now the norm to give a child a cell phone upon the commencement of pre-school, but back then (in the 90's -- ohmygod)  it was a bit of a luxury in my small town for a 16 year old to have her own personal cellphone. My family is not particularly wealthy -- my mom is just amazingly paranoid -- and I had  gotten my driver's licence three weeks earlier and totaled my first car two weeks after that, and my mom needed a way to keep track of her oldest daughter.  Being in the cellphone owning minority, I thought I'd owned some type of Nokia  gold and hoped my cellphone ownership would qualify me as some type of high school royalty. I was super proud my phone and showed it off whenever I could. I spent many a contemplative hour mall at kiosks picking out plastic faceplates so that I could change the color of my phone as often as I changed my adolescent mood.  However, being the misunderstood-unapproachable-bitchy teenager that I was I had nobody to talk to on my VoiceStream direct line to the world and my phone was primarily used for playing Snake. 

Part 2: The Dorm Days

Ah yes, college -- the Great American great awakening. In good ole'  Hokona Hall I found myself with a brand new group of friends and felt as if I'd finally encountered the intellectual equals I'd been searching for for the last 19 years. The first years of college were all about proving to everyone just how much I didn't care about anything that didn't matter and how much I cared about everything that did matter. I wore torn jeans and stopped blow drying my hair -- big statement I know.  The dorms brought a new hip ultra modern way to communicate via highspeed Internet -- the LAN line -- and my shiny HP Pavilion graduation gift game equipped with the most advanced of computer features at the time -- an Ethernet port.  This meant that my primary means of communication were AIM and Hotmail (ROFL).  If I wanted to talk directly to someone I'd just walk across the hall and knock on the door or if I was super lonely I'd make my way down to LaPo, the dinning hall, and mull around until I was invited to  join a large table of fellow dormies. There was no need for a cellphone -- I completely forgot to charge the battery on my phone for weeks at a time and I think it spent at least one entire semester underneath my extra long twin bed.  When I finally did get around to checking my voicemails they were all the same -- my mom demanding to know where I was and why I wasn't answering my phone.

Part 3:  I'm Like, So Sophisticated

Midway through college I'd decided that I'd outgrown the dorms and that I was mature enough to move into an apartment. Two other girls and I moved into an ultra chic flat in the ultra chic Northeast Heights lived I lived ultra chicly off of my Old Navy salary. We'd throw sophisticated dinner parties and stay up all night discussing politics and watching pseudo intellectual documentaries.  Since I could barely afford the rent at this place and we didn't have a land line my new favorite way to communicate with the outside world became the one my parents still paid for -- my cellphone.   This was the point when it became important for me to at least have my phone charged most of the time.  I still till never answered the thing but at least I gave those who would call me the satisfaction of a few rings before sending them to my voicemail. Only two people ever called me anyway, my mom and Crazy Freestyle Techno Guy (CFTG for short.) CFTG was a prank caller who for a few weeks would call me at exactly 12:07 am from a blocked number and insist, in a bad French accent, that he was in love with me and wanted to take me out to the Tram -- but could I drive?  He didn't have a car.  This was obviously a prank that played to the great amusement of whoever those young, and I'm sure beer drinking guys were. The most impressive thing about Crazy Freestyle Techno Guy though was his ability to, well, crazy freestyle techno, which is like freestyle rap, but, you know, techno.  To this day I still cannot express how fascinating this was and I hope to one day track down CFTG and exploit him for his talents.  Aside from providing the pre-Ashton punkers a way to keep me up all night, my phone was also particularly useful for tearfully calling my dad when I'd realized it was impossible to live off  $7.00 an hour and go to school full time --  amounting a living expense of about $350 dollars a month -- and to ask for a little money "just to get by." SHAME.

Part 4: Boys Boys Boys

My chicness in the previous section meant  I had begun to  comb my hair again and wear clean clothes.  Eventually though, I gained something far more valuable than personal hygiene -- social skills.  Although I'd always been comfortable and talkative in own my circle of friends I would literally freeze when when I'd have to step outside the boundaries of Jamie approved people -- I've always been an incredibly shy person, which many times got mistaken as snobby. Somehow, for some reason, my little shell of terror began to melt (we'll call this miracle "vodka")  and  I started learning how to talk to other people and by other people I mean boys and by talk I mean flirt.  By this time everyone in the world had a cellphone and I furiously engaged myself  in the sacred courting ritual of "getting digits."  I kept my phone fully charged at all times and would wait for hours on end for it to ring. When it finally did ring I wouldn't answer because I didn't want to seem desperate.   This became a particularly abusive point in my cellphone relationship. If I'd waited a particularly long time for a phone call that never came or if I'd gotten a text message canceling a date I'd hurl my phone into the wall. There was something particularly satisfying about the explosion of faceplate, battery, and keypad on renters white.  I'd then reassemble the phone, text a nasty response to the offending party which would usually be replied to in an even nastier response and launch the phone right back into the wall. 

Part 5: Love, Love, Love

Eventually all those boys turned into just one boy -- the ONE boy and I fell head-over-heels. 
The cellphone became the ultimate boyfriend tracking device.  I'd call my boyfriend when I'd wake up, when I got out of class, when I got home from work or when I was going to bed just to say "what's up."  If he didn't answer I'd panic imagining the worse -- I was sure he was somewhere bleeding to death uttering his last words of eternal commitment to me.  Of course when he'd call back, I'd have been staring at the phone willing it to ring for hours and instead being relived that he was alive I'd be pissed off that he hadn't called me and totally lay into him.  What did he mean he was in the library and couldn't answer the phone!?  That was no excuse. I WAS WORRIED DAMN IT!    Of course when he called and I didn't answer that was perfectly alright. What was I supposed to just sit around all day waiting to answer his call. I didn't think so. 


So this brings us to present day. It's Saturday afternoon and I've made the mistake of going to Costco with my parents and my sister.  Somehow I'd left my cellphone at home but I didn't mind too much, I mean I was going to be with my mom and she's the only one who calls me anyway.  I momentarily strayed from my family to taste a delectable sample of Italian Creme cake and when I'd turned back around they'd completely vanished. I was ALONE in COSTCO without my cellphone. I wondered aimlessly for about 45 minutes and then I began to panic.  I WAS NEVER GOING TO FIND MY FAMILY.  How in the world would I find them if I couldn't call them on my cellphone?  It could be days, even weeks!  I began  to work out a survival plan which involved living off of Bagel Bites samples and drinking fountain water when my mom appeared in the distance.  I was saved! When I finally got to her she was relived -- she didn't know how she would ever find me if I didn't have my phone on me.   I've experienced similar situations when I'm driving on the freeway and I've realized I've forgotten my phone -- what if I get stranded?  Or maybe I'm at Wal-Mart and I lose my last bar of service -- what I'm I going to do if I forget what brand of paper towels my sister told me to pick up?  Or worse yet, what if my phone battery dies and on my lunch break and I HAVE NO ONE TO MAKE IDLE CHATTER WITH?  I don't know how I ever survived  in the past when I didn't have my cellphone with me at all times.  

Oh Cellphone, It's been nine tough years but somehow we're still together.  It's been rough and I've often ignored you but in my own little way I've remained commited, I haven't changed my number or my service provider. That means something right? Oh Cellphone, oh Cellphone, it's taken me nine years, but oh, how I love thee.