As someone who's a member of the legion of dedicated phone toters, you'd think I'd be in a state of constant conversation. And yet I rarely use it for its original purpose.
This is not for lack of opportunity; I always have it with me. This morning on my way to the treadmill, I glanced over at my dashboard's display and had a twinge of unease when I realized I'd left my mobile phone at home on the charger. Suddenly I felt vaguely vulnerable, ludicrous when you consider I spent my first 40 years or so without one. Somehow I did once manage to run a household, raise children, and work a full time job with outside contact only available through an object bolted into the wall.
And I do use my cell phone throughout the day. In the morning I check the forecast for the next surprise from global warming. At the grocery store I consult it to see what can be done with the eye of round roast on sale. I use its GPS in my quest for a mother of the groom dress that won't make me look like a freckled bag of Idaho potatoes.
When I'm the go, if I'm feeling a bit too buoyant, I can open up my email for a jolt of reality from the latest literary agent rejection. And at home, I abandon my spatula or my sponge when I hear the distant ping of incoming pictures of my daughter's new carpeting in New Jersey.
My go-to form of communication is email. This was inevitable for someone who's a visual learner, loves manipulating language, and types well. And a control freak - the wonderful thing about writing your message, rather than saying it, is you can un-ring that bell. Say, in a moment of sudden honesty, you compose a note to your fellow committee members about grandmotherly Glady's suggestion of a Hawaiian hot-coal-walking competition for the annual town picnic. Unlike a face-to-face encounter, you have time to soften your language before you hit 'send', saving you from becoming a pariah at the senior center.
As a result, it rarely occurs to me to pick up the phone just for a chat with a friend. I'll never be one of those people with my phone glued to my head while the checkout girl is trying to get my attention, or the guy with a Bluetooth unit in his ear conversing at full volume to the empty air around him.
But there are times when email just won’t cut it. Through the universe's perverse sense of humor, my sister, who is the writer I'll never be, is now finding it difficult to manipulate a keyboard. So this afternoon I'll make a cup of tea, find a quiet corner of the house and give her a call.