Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stop me if ya heard it before...

So there was this guy, call him Lars. Eight years ago, towards the end of his time at university, Lars finally caved in and got a cell phone. Then, four years ago, give or take, Lars caved in again and bought a new cell phone. And it was good! At the time, it was a fancy little number: had a camera in it.

The years passed and Lars used his phone with all the solicitude and regularity of a hen feeding chicks (or, if you like, an eagle eating Prometheus' liver). But then in the course of time, entropy began to set in. The battery acted strangely, sometimes shutting down suddenly. After enough times being dropped, the phone was prone to going mute for a few days at a time. But in time it recovered its voice and all was well. It was Lars's dearest hand-held friend, a companion, a log of his past in text-message and jpeg-form, a Rolodex, an alarm clock, a handy reference for practicing Chinese characters, a diversionary tool in awkward situations, and more.

Not long ago, though, his two-year phone contract expired and he was without a number for a while, prepared to remain so indefinitely. But then a friend gave him an old SIM card to use and Lars was back in business.

A few weeks later he went into a cell phone shop to see about buying a new cell phone. Bracing concept! Lars needed something with enough RAM to store and play MP3's so he could keep learning Spanish (with Pimsleur). The next day he went to see Avatar--again, but this time in 3D! (the things we do for love, right?)--and, as he had done so many times before, he shut off his phone as the previews played. Three hours and a sore arse later, as Lars left the theater, his dear little phone was not to be found, not in any of his bag's compartments or in any of his ten or so pockets. He had liked Avatar's ending the first time he saw it, even though, it's true, the first time he saw it--in the third row center!--he had gotten so dizzy he nearly puked and had to step out and then return to watch the rest of it from the exit aisle. This time, had his phone gotten dizzy and stepped out? Had it bolted when it realized Lars was about to leave it for a new gadget? Had fate decided to hasten Lars's purchase of a new phone? Had a thief finally caught Lars off-guard after all those years and grabbed the prized phone? He would have asked his movie-mate to call him... but, like a good viewer, as he had done so many times before, he had shut off his phone as the previews played. Dead end. Missing dial tone. It was all mystery and darkness to Lars.

Two days later he was better adjusted to the loss, but his heart remained heavy and pensive. While chatting online with a friend, for whom he was to sub some classes the next day, she asked him, "Did you lose your phone?"

"Yeah, how'd you know?" Lars replied.

"I texted you and someone wrote back in English that they found your phone and you need to call them to get it," she explained.

"A ransom message!"

"Ha, no no, but do you remember your own number?"

"Yes! This is great!"

And so Lars hurried outside to the nearest pay phone... to call himself... but alas, the phone was dead! So he ran down the street to the next nearest phone and successfully called himself, himself in the hands of a kind stranger.

"Hello," answered the kind stranger.

"I heard you have my phone, that's great, thank you, sorry to call so late," Lars prattled.

"Ah, yes, my girlfriend found it. When do you want to get it?"

"Well, I work tomorrow..."

"Okay, where can we meet? How about 7 PM?"

"Ahh, well, I work until 9 PM, and then I've got another thing after that," mumbled Lars.

"Okay, where is your work?"

"Uhhm, well, I'm subbing for a friend, so I can't remember the address," Lars explained, sheepishly.


"But it's near Eastern University!"

"Ah, perfect, I'll be passing Eastern on my way home."

"Great, what's your name?"

"Max. With two x's," answered Maxx.

The hungry click of dwindling credit made for a slow counterbeat to Lars' beating heart.

"Thanks alot, Maxx, I think--"

And then the phone died. Lars dialed again and jammed more coins into the phone.

"Hello?" Maxx began.

"Maxx? Yes, it's me. Let's meet... ah, shoot... what road?"

"All right, slow down..."

"Okay, uhhm... Ah! Let me get your email and then I can tell you tomorrow for sure," Lars suggested.

"All right," Maxx agreed. "Talk more slowly, please, go ahead."

And so did Christmas come early for Lars. He called himself just in time to reach someone else and he got his phone back just in time to swap out for a new one. Life is funny sometimes.

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