I got my old phone back today–the one that only makes and receives phone calls.  I’ve hated my “new” phone since the day I bought it a month or so ago and was disgusted with myself that, given the way *my* and *the* economy is, I allowed myself to be talked into it (obviously the salesperson’s fault that I bought it).  I had no use for the email or web feature.  Or the camera.  Or any of the other stuff.  I have all that right here on my computer.  And it would take me close to half an hour to write an email.  I could never get my big, clumsy thumbs on the right letters.  Darwin would have said that the capacity for your people to let fly with the fingers across those tiny keys is further proof of evolution.

I talked to a customer service person last night who said if I still had my old phone I could just have it re-activated and the new phone would be shut down–along with the cost of all the doodles.  Something had told me not to throw the old phone away.  I was at the door of Verizon when the store opened at noon today.  Mission accomplished.  You will no longer receive  almost immediate answers to your emails apparently written as if in Welsh.

What I do with a telephone is sometimes I call someone and sometimes someone calls me.

I’m reminded of the telephone my family had at one time that did only that.  It hung on the wall of the hallway at our c. 1780 house in Sterling, Massachusetts back in the 50’s (that’s the 1950s, young folk).  It was really quite lovely.  It was solid oak.  Hung on the wall.   There was an ear piece which one lifted off and held to one’s ear while cranking the handle on the side (equipped with a nicely turned oak knob).  Then one spoke into the black metal “speaking tube” and said some like “Elsie, would you give me 234, please).  It would not be unusual for “Elsie” to say something like, “Well I will but she’s not home you know.”  It was what was called a four party line.  Each party on the line shared a ring, like one-short, one-long or two-longs. The upside was that only one of the other three parties could listen in on your conversations.

So now we carry access to the world on our belts.  I’m not going to attempt to make a case for those “good old days” of the oak phone and the four part line and more than I would attempt to make a case for the romance of going out to the stable on a bitter cold morning and hitching  old dobbin up to the shay. Much of the “good old days” is made of fading and very selective memories.  I will be trite enough to say this, though–thinking of the family I read of the other day who have six TVs in their house and can watch the same show as they go from room to room–I’ll say, when it comes to our personal lives, at what point and in relation to what do we finally say, “I don’t need that.”

Again, Happy Fathers Day.  And, if you are a dad and you really needed one, I hope your kids gave you an iPad or Pod or whatever.