Friday, May 17, 2013

Then and Now 66 - My Phone

Then and Now 66 - My Phone
Time: Before I got married.

For the sake of this Then and Now, I'm going to refer to my wife as my girlfriend.

Compared to the smartphones of today, the phone that I had during my single days, which was also the first cellphone that I ever had in my life, was like a cup and string. Even saying so, I was still very happy to have it, and very thankful for all that it did for me when I was still a free man. It was actually Leena's old phone, a fat white cell with its most special feature being an alarm.

It was when I first met her after I moved to the big city that she gave it to me, and she helped me to set up a contract with a local company to get it up and running. After I got home, I went through the cell's contact list and wrote down all of Leena's phone numbers there before deleting them, thinking that she might have forgotten to write them down and would need them later, but she never ended up asking, so I threw out the paper a few months later.

The first message I ever got on it was from somebody that I didn't know, either messaging Leena or the previous owner of the phone number that I inherited. It was some guy, and he texted something in English like "Hey, is that guy your boyfriend? Why don't you meet up with me instead? It'll be fun..." -100 man points for attempting to steal a girlfriend by a cell text, bro. I remember it being in broken English so I knew he was a local. I texted back that I was a man and had no idea who or what he was talking about, and I never heard any reply.

After that interesting first step, my phone became my link to the wide network of friends that I had made over the scant few months that I was a free man. Everyone I knew was on there: Nell, Leena, Nate and Annie, my girlfriend, my co-workers and boss, Tina, Andrew... they were all there. But the most interesting part of my old phone were the number of people that I haven't mentioned in any Then and Now posts sitting in my contact list: dozens of the people I had on my phone were girls who messaged me through email or instant messenger, each of them wanting to get to know me better. Most I met in person, some I didn't, but if they met up with me, they went on my phone.

My phone eventually got so full of names from friends I had met online or in person that it took me a minute or two just to scroll through my contacts list for the person I wanted to talk to. I then made a pair of unofficial rules for myself: I would always respond to anybody who had called or emailed me, but if someone failed to contact me after two weeks, I would delete their number from my phone, just to keep it trim and relatively clutter free.

After that, at odd times of the day, the phone would sometimes vibrate and I would see a person's name or a number that I didn't recognize coming in. Of course, I would answer with their name or a general hello and acted like I knew them, teasing out information until I could remember who exactly it was. Back then, I was actually making so many friends, and eventually dating prospects, that I was forgetting people that I had talked with for hours before. It was a great time to be me.

Sometimes I got to stay home from work during bad weather and just spend the entire day texting friends. Sometimes it was my tool to setting up a great night with many friends. In every case, I loved that phone from top to bottom. Every time I felt that vibration, I knew it was a friend of mine calling me up to ask how I was doing, or whether I wanted to go out and have some fun with them. And being a single man, I always had time to spare to meet up with my friends, especially on the weekend, and could make plans to meet up with anybody I wanted, anytime I wanted.

Every time my pocket buzzed, it was another chance to have another great night with a friend of mine. Before I started dating my girlfriend, it was another opportunity to get to know a sweet, friendly, charming girl who might soon be the one for me. After I started dating my girlfriend, it was another chance to enjoy my single life out with one of my friends, or my girl calling to let me know that she wanted to come over and see me for the night.

Today, I don't like my phone. At all. There are very few contacts on it, mostly family and people from work, and I never have the time or opportunity to hang out with even the one or two friends on it. Every time the phone rings, I know it's a small chance that it's somebody trying to sell me something, but more than likely, it's my wife or mother-in-law calling to nag me. Often, I just leave it behind or turn it off so I don't have to deal with the nonsense that keeps coming through it. The phone simply costs me money every month to use it, and costs me money and time every time I answer a call to buy or do something for someone.

What once was a bridge to a fun and happy single life became a married man's bullhorn, shouting at him to stop resting and shove more coal into the fire.

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