My cellphone broke down yesterday: Finally, that poor thing!
It had been with me for over three years, and by now I was getting texts and phone calls from the Verizon people on a regular basis, begging me to get an upgrade.
“Did you know you were eligible for a $50 rebate?!” some nice girl would be trying to tell me after I would call to complain about the most recent malfunction on my device:
“The flip is not clicking anymore,” I’d say. “I think it’s loose.”
“Well, m’am,” the nice girl would be studying my files on her screen. She seemed to be patient, and yes, super nice. Perhaps, in those files, she could read all the records of my previous love affairs, from start to finish; and she would take pity on me. And even if she couldn’t see my love stories unfold through a progression of texts between my exes and I, I bet she could tell I was going through another break-up by the gastronomical size of my bill that month.
And sometimes, I would imagine she had some sort of a hidden camera thingy connected to the flimsy flip in my hand, and she could actually see all the terrible truths about my life.
“Hmm. It says here you’d drowned your phone in a cup of coffee nearly a year ago.”
(See! I told you she had that hidden camera thingy!)
But yes, it is true about the coffee. You see, about a year ago, I had finally decided my motha and I were ready to cross the next boundary in our relationship — and that we could try texting each other.
Now, I am not one of those absentee daughters. I call my motha on a regular basis, one-to-two weekend nights per week. Even if we feel like we have nothing to say to each other, I would much rather hear motha’s repeated monologues on the other end of my cellphone — than suffer the passive-aggressive silence after I had somehow forgotten to call her one weekend. Because let me tell you: Jewish mothers have NOTHING on my motha with their guilt trips. My motha copyrighted that shit! And she is not really the silent type, neither in Russian nor English. So, when she does go quiet on you, she can raise the hairs on the back of your neck with feelings of her orphan-like abandonment and saintly martyrdom.
Anyway. At the end of last summer, we had passed a new threshold: For the first time in our lives, we each had our own place with which we were finally perfectly content. There would be no more terrible roommates. No more partners with messy habits. And we had vowed that each would stay at her place for at least a couple of years.
Conveniently, my motha’s joint had horrendous cellphone reception. So, before she got herself a landline, I would have to text — to test her availability.
“CALL NOW” — motha would respond, often with no punctuation marks and in all caps.
But my very first text to motha was actually less than technical.
“Lov U, shawty,” I wrote.
I was feeling mushy that morning. It’s a consequence of having a heart that’s easily prone to gratitude. Motha would understand that: I am sure I’ve inherited that damn thing from her. And so:
“Lov U, shawty,” I composed. But right before I could hit the red button of SEND, the flip phone slipped out of my hand and dove right into the middle of my morning cup of coffee with a precision of a kamikaze.
“SHIT” — I thought (with no punctuation marks and in all caps). “My coffee is ruined.”
As I said: I had just moved into the place, and before I had unpacked my kitchen supplies, I had walked to the 7-Eleven on the corner to get my caffeine fix for the day.
The flip phone was retrieved eventually and immediately buried in a jar of rice. It wasn’t white rice, but one of those healthy wild rice mixtures from Trader Joe’s. So, the trick wouldn’t work, and I would go through the hassle of filing an insurance claim and waiting for some hideous device to arrive in the mail. My old flip phone would eventually be revived with the help of a hairdryer, and I would feel like my faithful device and I had passed another hurdle in life. We were veterans. Survivors. And we weren’t ready to part ways yet.
Because one of the terrible truths in my life was that, just like everyone else, I was married to my cellphone. It was the most significant relationship in my life — and an appendix to my ego. And even though every once in a while (like after a break-up, for instance) I would lock that thing up in my car for a day to punish it — to punish the whatever him I was breaking-up with — I couldn’t live without it.
And there had been moments when I would fling the poor thing across the room after a prolonged wait for a Time Warner rep to pick-up my call. I had used it to break-up with my old bank from the East Coast, utterly useless on this side of the country. Because my cellphone was perfect for confrontations; and I think it had something to do with the flip feature of it. It added a certain umph to my endings, like a punctuation mark at the end of a text message.
But about a week ago, I could tell: My poor thing — my dear veteran — was on its very last stretch. It was no longer responding to its charger, and seemingly its screen was starting to suffer from some sort of electronic epilepsy. Two days ago, it was over.
Finally, that poor thing!
“NO CHARGER DETECTED” — the screen said (with no punctuation marks and in all caps).
And then: It went dark.
Strangely, despite all of our history, I didn’t feel any sadness about its departure. It is true we had passed through many hurdles together. We were veterans. Survivors.
But I knew: Ah, it was time.
“How can I help you?” some nice boy with an iPhone clipped onto his belt said to me when I stormed into the Verizon store last night.
“Well,” I said, whipped out the dead body of my cellphone and slammed it against the counter. “You tell me!”
The nice boy smiled: He couldn’t help it.
“Ow… Ouch. What happened to its gloss?” he said, ever so charitably.
And I remembered the very first day I bought my baby at another store: It was caramel-colored and shiny, and it would light up with red lights when I caressed its surface. The gloss was long gone now, and I would begin to be slightly embarrassed to take it out in public.
The kind boy was by now studying my files on his screen. Could he see all of the terrible truths about my life? Could he read the histories of my relationships in the gastronomical sizes of my previous bills? And considering the low amount due this month, could he tell I had been finally single — and contently so — for the duration of the last season?
“Did you know you were eligible for a $150 rebate?”
“That bad, eh?” I said and smiled. I couldn’t help it.
“IT’S TIME” — the nice boy said (with no punctuation marks and in all caps).
And when he asked me if I wanted to save any of my old text messages or voicemails — for I would be losing ALL of them in this transition — I did not feel any sadness at all.
“No,” I answered. “It is time.”