I don’t want to be the crotchety old guy reminiscing about the Good Old Days, but when it comes to phones, we’re going backwards. The last time I had a clear connection was in 1973.
It was called a bone phone due to the shape of the receiver. It was a breakthrough in design: the earpiece faced your ear, and the mouthpiece faced your mouth. Genius. In between those ends was a handle that fit comfortably in your hand, or you could wedge it onto your shoulder. Some even came with a little pillow. It didn’t have batteries so it never went dead. You could talk for hours, unless you had my mom.
The first sign of trouble was the Princess Phone. It looked modern with its rounded edges but it was kind of slippery. I had one that broke, and back then I still felt I could fix a broken phone. I pried it open and was surprised to discover a lead weight screwed to the body, which hoped to make it feel substantial,”so you didn’t know right away that it was a frail piece of junk.
Today my phone-of-the-month is a tiny, black, slippery rectangle with rounded corners. I drop it just looking at it. There isn’t really an ear “piece,” just a pinhole. And the mouth pinhole lines up with my second molar. It works most everywhere except home and work.
I was at the grocery store yesterday when my shorts started to slide down. They are held up with a drawstring, but I have no butt. Normally guys with my problem just stuff their hands into their pockets, then do The Shrug: you grip your pants and act like you don’t care about something, and when you shrug you lift your pants from the inside, being careful to grab only your pants so you don’t give yourself a snuggie, something you can’t gracefully pick back out at the grocery store.
But I was on the phone. I tried to wedge it between cheek and shoulder to free up both hands but I might as well have been talking on a watermelon seed. It kept squirting this way and that, and I was quickly nearing the point of doom where the beltline passes the equator of my butt and the shorts freefall. Squirming and contorting to oooch them back up with one hand, I looked like Joe Cocker.
Can I get a Space Age phone? One that is ergonomic, one that doesn’t drop calls, one one which I can understand people? My friend Marco reminds me that the Space Age was 1965.
This would not have happened with a bone phone. And perhaps this is why for the last five years every teenage boy I see has his pants half-assed. “Dude!” I yell silently. “Hang up and Shrug!”