Last week I joined the growing number of people who’ve lost a cell phone. This interlude of loss gave me time to dwell on the good old days when people crossed the street or drove a car with one purpose in mind, a purpose now distracted by the cell phone.
I grew up in the country where my best friend would yell “ee-Hawk-ee” across a field about three hundred feet away when he wanted to pal-up. We had a phone in the house, but it was a party-line and I don’t mean party central.
In my teens the house phone—we had only one– had a ring of excitement to it. Instead of yelling across the field, I would scream from the living room, “I got it.”
And all those really important calls to the opposite sex were made from a phone booth downtown for 10 cents. My favorite was located inside a fancy restaurant. The door closed tightly cutting off the outside—it was as if I were on a movie set with all eyes on me. Sometimes I would smell perfume, or tobacco. The coin drop was a quick musical journey of metal on metal, then that hum—show-time. The rings were loud and long and, at times, empty—there were no answer machines back then. And if her mother answered, she’d always ask who’s calling? Those were awkward times, awkward calls, but memorable. If I had cell phone back then, I would have missed the thrill of emerging from the phone booth in the lobby of a restaurant amid strangers wondering why I had a smile on my face.