'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
CELL PHONE CALL: ‘FLANGOO HEMMIE COW?’
They’re doing some pretty amazing things with cell phone technology nowadays. Some cell phones come with built-in cameras that take digital photos. Other features include: access to the Internet, the ability to send email messages, games and music storage, and a small color screen for displaying videos.
And of course, there is the remarkable size of the current generation of cell phones. They’re getting smaller and smaller every year. There’s even a new model called the “Razor” which is so thin you don’t even need a belt clip to carry it. You simply slip it into your back pocket—and then the first time you sit down on a hard chair the phone breaks in half.
The first cell phone I ever had, less than a decade ago, was the size and shape of a brick, only much heavier. Now the cell phones are so small if you put one down on the table during dinner, it might accidentally be mistaken for a crouton and get eaten.
But one thing puzzles me. Instead of concentrating all of their engineering efforts on making the cell phone itself a multi-functional device the size of a postage stamp, why don’t the telecommunications companies spend some time and money making the actual phone conversations sound a little less like talking underwater? Or maybe they could improve the reliability of the reception so my calls only get disconnected every two minutes rather than the current average of once every 30 seconds?
(Unless I’m traveling through Burlington, Conn., which means the call never gets connected in the first place because the town fathers are still reviewing Alexander Graham Bell’s original application to put phone service in the town, and therefore can’t be bothered with any of those newfangled cell phone tower zoning requests.)
Excuse me if I’m naïve, but isn’t the primary reason we own cell phones so that we can have the ability to make, and here’s a novel concept, phone calls?
Have you ever seen those annoying cell phone commercials on TV? The main character is a geeky guy who walks around and keeps saying into his cell phone, “Can you hear me now?”
Well, the answer to that question is, “Yes, I can hear you fine—because it’s a TV commercial and my TV gets very good reception and has very good speakers.” Now if I were on the other end of the geeky guy’s phone call, his question would sound like, “Flangoo hemmie cow?”
But it would sound that way only if we had a good reception signal. If we had a weak signal, his question would sound like, “Fla————ow?” (And if either one of us were in Burlington, the question would sound like, “———————?”)
I’m afraid that even if the phone companies are able to improve the sound quality and the reception signals, it won’t do me any good. You see, to my complete shock, I discovered just the other day that I am now middle-aged. Well, it wasn’t the other day, it was actually the other night, and the bearer of the bad news was my bladder, who said to me at 2 a.m., “Hey pal, you know that ‘sleeping through the night’ thing? Well, forget about it. I can’t wait anymore. For the rest of your life I’m gonna wake you up at 2 a.m.”
One of the many exciting aspects of being middle-aged—besides the belligerent bladder, the memory loss, and the ear hair—is the fact that my eyes no longer focus on anything within three feet of my head (which is where, I discovered just the other day, my eyes are located).
The buttons on most new cell phones are about the size of a hydrogen atom. I not only cannot see them clearly, I can push 8 buttons at once with my thumb, making it kind of difficult to dial someone’s number correctly.
There is only one solution to my cell phone dilemma: I need to move to Burlington.
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