Friday, October 8, 2010

Course Overload #24 "Phone Home"

I want you to turn out your pockets, and women and secure men, turn out your pocketbooks. And if you’ve got one, I want you to empty out your book bag.

Ha ha. You just made a big mess. Fooled you!

Seriously though, there is a method to my madness. There’s a good chance that your heap of stuff is ringing, vibrating or playing the same few bars of some ridiculous song over and over. I want you to wade through the nice big pile you just fathered and pull out your cell phone, if you weren’t using it while voiding your pockets in the first place.

Now take a good look at it. It’s hard to imagine life without that little sucker, isn’t it? Everywhere you look, someone is on their cell phone. I’m guilty of it too: One time, in the middle of a TV criticism class, I had an entire cell phone conversation about how many aliens Mr. T would kill if he were a robot ninja. Everyone was so used to receiving calls at all hours of the day, all I needed to do was say “excuse me for a moment” as I picked up the phone and that made it all okay.

You may be thinking that you don’t use your cell phone all that much. You might even think that you could give up your cell phone any time you wanted. Well, think again. As I discovered one dismal October day, it’s anything but easy to escape from the cell phone’s mighty, menacing grip.

When I awoke that morning, there was only one thing on my mind – a book. I had fallen asleep reading Life in the Fat Lane the night before, and it was still on my head when I woke up. Tossing it aside before too much of its evil seeped into my brain through my exposed, tender face, I glanced up at the clock. Ahh, good. I had nearly three minutes to get myself into my car before I would be late, once again, for my Tennessee Williams class. Last time I only had a minute and a half and I had to cut out some of my less important morning rituals like wearing pants.

Moments later, I was careening down the highway at approximately 400 MPH, praying that I wouldn’t be late. At some point, I flew past an ambulance, passing it on the right. For some reason, the lights were flashing and the sirens were blaring. The occupants were so happy to see that I’d make it to school on time, the all waved at me, especially with their middle fingers. “Sirens are so romantic,” I thought, and pulled off the exit to school. After assaulting a few speed bumps and nearly running over a large group of slow-moving pedestrians who didn’t seem to know what cars are, I drove into the nearest parking spot (about three blocks away) and bolted to class.

I had triumphed! There I was, in class, on time, with pants and ready to learn. But, as soon as class started, I noticed something was amiss. I put my hands on my chest – no, I was wearing a shirt. I grabbed at my left pants pocket – yep, I had my wallet and my mother’s charge card, so everything was okay there… And then I instinctively knew what had gone wrong. Praying that I was missing something unimportant, like my car keys, I put my hand on top of my right pants pocket.

There was no telltale cell phone bulge. The only bumps I could feel were from the Cap’n Crunch I had poured in my pocket to eat for breakfast on the way to school and a little moistness from the milk. Horrified, I slid my hand into the void, producing nothing but breakfast cereal. I was stuck without his cell phone for the ENTIRE DAY. I could barely keep from screaming (and for once it had nothing to do with what my therapist and I talk about).

I know it sounds crazy, but I somehow made it through my classes that morning without a cell phone. Near the end of my last class, though, I had drawn a cell phone in my notebook and was talking into it for nearly 10 minutes before I realized it had lost the signal.

I must have gotten lucky because my car still worked, even without my poor phone. I hopped in and drover to work, where I was surprised to learn that I hadn’t been fired due to lack of mobile communication device. But how was I ever going to finish out the day without my mobile phone? Thankfully, that’s when I noticed a large, black, cell phone-like object on my desk. It had numbers on it and sometimes it rang. Could it be some sort of new style cell phone? I picked up the banana-like part and dialed my father’s number.


“Dad!” I exclaimed. “Help me! I forgot my cell phone today and I have no way of communicating with anyone!”

“Then how are you talking to me?” Dad asked, genuinely astonished.

“I don’t know!” I yelled, staring at the black demon box. “I’m so scared!”

Suddenly, Dad burst out into tears. “Matt, thank God! Your mother and I thought you were dead!”

By the time I made it home, it was nearly 3 a.m. (I had driven extra slow to make sure the cops wouldn’t notice and pull me over for not having a cell phone.) I ran to my phone, pulled it out of the charger and cuddled it lovingly, like a beautiful newborn.

That day, I had missed no less than 86 phone calls and just as many voice mails. Half of them were from my friends, seeing if I had died and, if so, perhaps they could have my PlayStation. A few were from my parents and another few were from my job, even though I had reported to work as scheduled. Actually, I think I gave my boss the number.

The last call was from Jesus. He said that he loved me very much and didn’t understand where I had gone and why He couldn’t seem to contact me anymore. I hung up the phone and walked calmly out of the house.

On my lawn, I stared into the sky and screamed, “Can you here me now?”

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