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12/31/06 Massage
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12/25/06 Auto Show
11/23/06 Circus Vargas
10/29/06 Competitive Eating
09/17/06 Wine-Tasting
09/17/06 Words
09/17/06 Cell Phone Chirps
08/12/06 Fashion for Men
06/04/06 Free Cat

Cell Phone Chirps

The Buddha said that we're not punished for our anger but by our anger.

That's why I let go of things: bad umpiring in the World Series, Hummers taking up three lanes at once, politicians looting our treasury under cover of American flag.

But there is one thing I cannot tolerate, and that is the walkie-talkie cell phone.

We're hemmed in by people who used to be perfectly quiet, but now, thanks to "progress," can talk around the clock without lifting that heavy cell phone up to their empty heads. And we, the innocent bystanders, are caught in the crosstalk....

"Hi, Dave. This is Skip. I was just calling because silence scares me."

"Hey, Skip. I'm on the other line with my German shepherd. Let's talk three-way!"

And every sentence ends with that merciless, ever-present, blood-clotting "chirp." That's what Nextel would have you call them -- "chirps." Cheery name for something that makes your ears bleed. Science is only beginning to understand the evils of second-hand conversation.

Maybe we've arrived at too much technology. My family used to discuss these things at night; now we're too busy checking voicemail, surfing the net, watching TV ...

So it goes.

Mark Twain suffered through the advent of the telephone, cringing at those early conversations when people kept clicking the receiver saying, "Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?"

In 1890, Twain's Christmas card read, "It is my hope that all of us may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting peace ... except the inventor of the telephone."

The problem is that phones are issued to humans at large, regardless of their age, I.Q., or ability to sense WHEN THEY ARE SHOUTING. I once saw a homeless person with a cell phone. The phone may not have worked, but I'll bet it's an excellent excuse to talk to yourself without people staring.

So everyone is talking to far-away people but won't even smile at humans who are actually, physically present. We've all got Elevator Face, staring straight ahead because CNN has taught us that meeting new people could result in death.

Speaking of CNN: Doctors in Taiwan removed from the rectum of a distraught young lady one Nokia cell phone. I'm not sure why CNN mentioned the number of phones. Maybe in Taiwan they have to distinguish between this and multiple-phone dislodgings.

But it is just this kind of telephone obsession that led a man in aisle three of my local Albertson's to call home and ask his -- chirp -- wife whether -- chirp chirp -- he preferred mild or medium salsa, and that was my Rosa Parks moment.

I returned that day to Albertson's with my friend Blake, who asked not to be mentioned by name. Blake and I manned opposite ends of the store and held a conversation by way of -- you guessed it -- bullhorns. I mean, what's the difference, right? And after each sentence, we played a snippet of Nextel's adorable chirp.

"Blake, tomatoes are on sale, four pounds for $3.92. Did you bring a calculator?" Chirp chirp.

"No. Round up. Hey, how's your sister doing?" Chirp chirp.

I got as far as the malignant growth on my sister's rear end when security arrived, thinking that I may work for the post office.

"Reality check, produce. Reality check..."

And there in front of the embarrassed-red tomatoes I debated the walkie-talkie cell phone with Harry, Albertson's manager, who asked not to be mentioned by name. Harry confessed that the cell phone chirp also caused him digestive problems, but he would not join the Revolution.

I myself am willing to die in a war against the walkie-talkie cell phone. It is the least I can do to save our grandchildren from a world chirp where even the Buddha chirp would chirp chirp go chirp INSAAAAAAANE chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp.


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