It's not about the house.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Can You Picture It Now?

Well, folks, Yours Truly has taken yet another kicking, screaming step into the 21st century. After a fashion.

I've always been what they call a late adopter. Not because I'm afraid of new technologies, or because I can't figure them out. Trust me when I say I'm not one of these cane-shaking blue-hairs hollering at whippersnappers to get their Wii balls off my lawn. It's just that I don't like to stir the pot when things seem to be simmering along pretty well the way they are. And as a result, I don't usually see the need to pick up a new spoon until the old stew start to settle, stick and burn.

I didn't buy a CD player, for example, until 1992 -- and even then only after staring for six months at the jewel-boxed soundtrack to Thelma & Louise that somebody gave to me in '91. In 1996 I actually wrote some ad copy for Sony introducing the very concept of the DVD, but didn't covet my own player till 2005, when Blockbuster all but stopped stocking VHS. And I bought my first cell phone in 2007, under the unfortunate delusion that Important People might soon be clamoring to hear my voice.

I still have that phone, in fact. It looks like this:

Every time I speak to the Verizon people, they offer me an upgrade and then laugh at me when I refuse. Really: they laugh. They think it's cute when I exclaim "No, thank you; I love my little phone!" -- and it only just this minute occurs to me that they're probably thinking "cute" in an Estelle-Getty-as-Sophia-Petrillo kind of way. Ah, well. At least Sophia always did get the best lines.

My latest round of indulgent giggles on that front came the other day, in a customer-service phone call occasioned by the kicking and the screaming, which was in turn occasioned by the fact that I've at long last started sending out text messages.

It began very slowly. When my mother died, an old friend I never hear from sent me a message of condolence, and I had to sit down and figure how to send one back. I'm pretty impressed with myself that I managed to work it out, considering my emotional state and the fact that I'd thrown the manual out with the receipt way back when my little phone was new. Since then, he's been sending me occasional "chin-up" messages and smileys. I never notice them for days or weeks after they arrive, but when I finally do, I always answer. It just seems like the Miss Manners thing to do.

In this manner, little by little, I figured out how to make it work. Punctuation, line breaks, capitals, even how to insert the occasional smiley-face of my own. I wasn't very good at it. I didn't like it. But I knew.

Then, in a sort of settle-stick-burn perfect storm, over the course of a single week I had dinner with a few old friends I hadn't seen in fifteen years, got back in touch with another one from out of town, and tag-teamed my best in-town friend through a grueling medical procedure. And in doing so I learned a whole new language through immersion, in my Estelle-Getty-as-Sophia golden-years.

I haven't been able to bring myself yet to use all the cool-kid shorthand. I still kick it old school, with complete sentences, capital letters, punctuation marks and all the rest -- including the occasional parenthetical phrase or compound verb. I don't "u no," I don't "b4," and I never "lol." I do occasionally emoticate, however, because I've learned that if you tell a straight man he better work without tossing him a wink, chances are he won't get the reference to RuPaul. I still sometimes forget, though.

I've been doing this for just over a week now, and have already: been misunderstood to the point of offense (several times), sent a rather sensitive message to the mortifyingly wrong recipient (once) and, I fear (although no one will say so), made something of a nuisance of myself. I imagine the novelty of it will wear off after a while, but in the meantime I think I've finally sussed out the allure: it's like passing notes in school, only you get to do it everywhere. Even if you're sharing information about the state of someone's lymph nodes, or someone else's safe airport arrival, you still feel like you're getting away with something bad.

At least, I do.

Or at least I did.

I did, until Destructo decided that sometimes, for no reason whatsoever, certain of my texts should go out twice. And until the Very Nice Folks at Verizon said there was nothing they could do about that glitch in the system. So now, whether I'm sharing information about biopsies, dinner plans, or the snake that pooped on me when I picked it up in the backyard...

I still feel like the same doddering old logorrheic bat I've always been.


Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only person left in the world who uses the correct spelling and grammar when texting.

I am a bit of an early adopter. I think it is because I am greedy and like to have lots of 'stuff'.

Sashimi said...

Like passing notes in school? ..that's a thought. :)

And try texting on a touch screen phone on a moving bus on not particularly smooth roads. U'll come around to the short hands very quickly.

Excuse the bragging, but I really love my gizmos :-) (Can't do without the smileys either)

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