Recently, during a discussion in our kitchen about the time-space continuum and dog farts, the topic of cell phones came up. I hate them. I think they might have some use if I were back in Iowa, the western counties, and a blizzard was coming on as I drove into the great chasm between Varina and Odebolt, and it might be nice to let people know where I was in case the blizzard blew me into a ditch and covered me up. Barring that, I don’t see much point beyond chatting, and any male who likes to chat, and do so on a cell phone, needs to buy his underwear at Victoria’s Secret. I hate cell phones. However, I own one. Lisa bought me one for my birthday a while back and I am just now learning how to answer it. I carry it in my school bag where it usually stays, and does so in the OFF mode. I know how to send a call and how to receive it. For either, you just flip off (I mean flip open) the phone and push the button marked “STUPID.”
Anyway, Lisa and our younger daughter Rowe were putting together some baked goodies recently, but they had a problem. They were out of brown sugar. I volunteered to go to the store before the football game started. I am such a prince.
“Here, take your phone in case we forget something,” Lisa said, pushing it toward me from the kitchen countertop where it was plugged into an outlet, charging up.
I recoiled from the odious instrument. Pure instinct. It was like the time I came upon a copperhead on the foot path in the mountains. I said, “No, you guys write down exactly what you need and then I’ll be happy to go get it. Without the cell phone.”
“It won’t hurt you to take it, just in case,” Lisa said, scribbling down what else she needed.
“I would rather make three trips to the supermarket than answer one cell phone call. In public. Make that four trips,” I said.
Lisa game me a look and I acquiesced.
As I reached for the vile thing, Rowe, who loves technology, said, “Let me show you some of the options, Dad.’
“I don’t want any options,” I said. For some reason, she thought that was funny.
When I got to the supermarket I considered leaving the phone in the car. That way, if they called, they could just leave a message and I could say, sorry, I just finished. Then I realized I did not yet know how to retrieve a message, so I slipped the phone in my jeans pocket and went inside. I shopped as fast as I could because I suspected, as a joke, Lisa and Rowe would give me a call. What fun to harass people about that which troubles them. I told them I did not like bells going off in my pockets, especially in public, but I still didn’t trust them.
I was making great progress on the list (cocoa, white flour, and brown sugar) until I got to the brown sugar. Lisa wanted the kind in the plastic bag and all I could find was the kind in a box. On top of that, she had not said what kind of brown sugar – dark brown, light brown, granulated, raw brown, sorta brown, fawn brown, sandalwood brown, faux brown – she wanted. This slowed me down. It also made my body itch all over because I was confident about the trick call allowing the people around me to mutter about the dork talking in the baking supplies aisle.
What to do? What to do! I paused, transfixed, in front of the sugar shelves. If I could grab what she wanted and get out, maybe I’d get home before she and Rowe pull their little joke.
As I reached for the boxed light brown sugar to be used only on weekends by right-handed women of German-Scotch descent, my pocket jingled softly. At first I thought it was someone else because it had never happened to me before. When I realized it was for me, I retrieved the insidious device, flipped it open on the third try, pushed “STUPID” and said, “This better be good.”
It was my bride. “Baking SO-da,” she said. “Add baking SO-da.”
“I got it,” I muttered. I pressed STUPID to END the message (END rhymes with SEND) avoided the glares of my fellow shoppers, whipped through the “10 Items or Less,” checkout, and sped home.
I hate cell phones.