Vol. 3, Issue 19, August 2, 2005
Think Difference (Engine).
Perplexing Times

Can You Hear Me Now?... Actually, No, I Cannot

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

I have had Occasion before to use the small portable Tele-phones called Cell Phones; the experience has not been a Pleasant one, being rather reminiscent of talking into a Bar of Soap. I cannot Dial the things, I cannot Hear the things, and I have misplaced Several over the years; they now chirp their tinny Tunes to me from various concealed corners of my Office at apparently random Intervals. I pretend they are Crickets and the noise seems Much more enjoyable.

However, my poor benighted Nephew decided to try once More to advance me into the Twentieth Century and so procured yet another of the hateful devices as a "Gift."

"Ephram," I noted, "you have procured me a Christmas-decoration by Mistake!" For indeed the small silver Bauble is aglitter with many blinking Lights; it is quite Festive, actually. But no, my nephew assures me that this is a Phone, and that I need but flip it open with a Practiced Gesture of the Wrist to use its marvelous faculties.

Very well: I flip. To no avail, for the device remains Closed. A firmer flip, perhaps, is Called for: all together now... I flip it Again, into the Fire this time, where the glittering silver egg soon explodes like a noxious Christmas Cracker.

"Ephram, unless the point of this device was to communicate with my Fire-place, I cannot see that it has Succeeded," I say ruefully. But Ephram merely pulls an Identical cell-phone from his Pocket, noting that "it was a two-for-one deal," and opens it For me. Zounds: this is no Tele-phone; it is a Tele-Vision, for there is a bright little colorful Screen in there! Of course I cannot see it, because it is the size of a Boston postage stamp. But an Editor is never far from his Magnifying-glass, and I procure mine Straightaway. I must look rather Sherlockian, peering at this device through my Glass; but alas, there are no clues to be Found upon it, or at least I remain clue-less in any event.

"Stay there, Uncle Zeke, and I'll go in the other room and send you some pictures!" says the impertinent lad. Very well: off he goes, and I am left to stare at this object, which now reminds me of nothing so much as a large glittering Beetle. I hear shouts from the other room - "No Emmett, not those pictures, I am so going to get you man!" - and indeed, pictures Appear as if by Magic in procession across the little screen. Pictures of Ephram at what appears to be a Party of Very Ill Repute, with many people in Varying states of Undress and Intoxication. Ephram dashes into the room and quickly presses a button which causes the Screen to go Blank; he then offers a wanly embarrassed smile.

"I note, Ephram, that while the world of Cell-phones has changed, you most certainly have Not," I state with a particular Arching of the Eyebrows that I reserve especially for my Nephew in his less accomplished moments. He mutters a hasty Fare-well and wishes me luck with the new Device, pronouncing our lessons Complete for the day.

I was going to try to Use it later this morning, a fresh start after a few much-needed glasses of the Balvenie, but the shiny little thing appears to have Slipped behind a Book-case. Well, it appears that my Office has a new resident Cricket. I raise my glass to Progress, and get a pen and a fresh bottle of Ink ready to write a Letter.

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