I talk about my cell phone a lot. It’s not that I’m a Luddite—I’ve used cell phones since we first tried to pronounce Nokia. My first phone was about the size of a circus hot dog. I had it until it was run over by a hearse.
I miss it. The little 1×1″ screen got crushed. After that it only displayed black, liquidy pop-art puddles. Cool, but you couldn’t see what you were dialing, and I was taught not to speak to strangers.
My newest phone has lots of clever ringtones, none of which I can hear. So I often set it to buzz, then put it in my pocket so I can feel it vibrate on my thigh. That works better, and when I’m lonely I can call myself.
But lately my thigh has been buzzing even when I don’t have my phone. I have developed a phantom ring.
It started when I crashed my sailboat twice in one day. My boat is fast but volatile, more or less two big water skis with a trampoline stretched between them to sit on. Lots of sail, not much boat, so it blows over sometimes, and you get bucked off. If your body flies above all the rigging, it’s like being thrown by your friends into a cool lake: fun. If instead you go through the rigging it’s more like being thrown into a pinball game. Bing-Konk-Bang-Pop-Ding!
After doing the latter last weekend (ow.) my left thigh has been randomly buzzing. I go to answer it but there is no one home, not even a phone. I even tried yelling at my leg: “Who is it?!” but nothing. An hour later it will ring again. Is this like when war vets lose a limb, and yet it still itches? Do they get phantom phone calls? If you were attacked in Kabul by a suicide bomber and you lost your ears, would you still feel your iPod?