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September 25, 2011

That Sound, That Sound!

In August I spent several days in the mountains (as if you didn’t know). I had a new $19 cell phone to let my loved ones know I was still alive when I emerged (Did they care? I pretended they did.). I charged it in the Valley and kept it turned off during my Mountain walk to save the battery. It wouldn’t have worked anyway. Luckily, there are places where ‘back to nature’ means no phone service. Places where if a tree falls on you in the forest no one will have to hear the crack of your skull. Or film it for the seven o’clock news.

So this dumb little phone sat in my pack waiting its turn. I made it to Quincy and turned it on. We have power. Then I realized I had no one’s number with me and none in my head. I hadn’t saved them in the new phone; I’d never called anyone. I thought I knew one number but was only unsure of a couple ciphers. Good job, Odd Job.

Days earlier, I would sit by a babbling brook in measured bliss and recognize in the water sound something mistakable for a cell phone ring. As I reached a paved road, cars would whiz by (nobody picked me up) and the engine could make a slightly ring-ish tone. I got closer to town and the sprinklers on the lawns did the same. A radio in the distance. Little bells to keep away the birds.

Then I really got into town and there really were cell phones. They were ringing all around me, or was it the ice-cream truck, or was it the traffic light signal for the blind, or the electric beeper when you enter a place of commerce, or somebody practicing the hurdy-gurdy? It wasn’t my phone, it wasn’t even turned on, I checked a couple times.

And even when the ring wasn’t the same as my phone, which I didn’t know, I’d hear one ring and pull mine out of my pocket, like a quick-draw artist. I did this for many days wherever I went. The washing machine can make a similar sound occasionally. Better check. Or there’s a mystery chord on the guitar that sounds phone-ringing-ish. Checked.

No one could have called me as no one had my number. But a couple people texted me anyway with odd messages about sleazy encounters. Did I get a dead man’s number? Did I get a death row convict’s number he wouldn’t need again? I don’t want these calls. I don’t want any calls. Later, I slightly changed my stance on that, but just out of the solitude of the high elevations I really couldn’t stand that ding-a-ling.

The shopping centers, supermarkets, airports, when you get back to earth in the hot little tram waiting to chug down the runway and everyone’s cells go off at once like an electronic conspiracy. And the worst, by far the worst, wanna guess? is television. When phones are ringing all over every hour on every channel, but they’re not in the room, they’re fictional. Better check your own phone just in case.

In case of what? How many really important calls do you get? I don’t get any. The last one I didn’t answer, then he called back. Calls from relatives of the old and sick. But life-changing joy-producing business over the phone? What we’re all waiting for, but does it ever come? “Hello this is the Publishers Clearing House, congratulations …” That never happens. Isn’t it more like, “Wanna do lunch?” “Can’t. I’m meeting my other mistress.” “’Kay, seeya.”

Take my blood pressure and heart rate and see the earthquake jumps every time a real, imagined, fictional, or flowing mountain stream phone rings. So I ask why and I get an answer I don’t like. DO NOT ASK FOR WHOM THE PHONE RINGS, IT RINGS FOR YOU.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt:  Are you stressed out too?
Jeff:  Not me, I’m a man of leisure.
Mutt:  I’m a man of Topeka.
Jeff:  Want to hear a good joke?
Mutt:  No, I want to hear yours.
Jeff: One day a Czechoslovakian came to visit his friend in New York. When asked what he wanted to see, the Czechoslovakian replied, "I would like to see one of the zoos in America." To his delight, the New Yorker took him to the zoo. While they were touring the zoo, and standing in front of the gorilla cage, one of the gorillas busted out of the cage and swallowed the Czech whole. Shocked, his friend from New York quickly called over the zoo keeper. He explained the situation and asked the zoo keeper what he planned to do. The zoo keeper got an axe and asked the man, "Okay, which gorilla did it, was it the male or the female." Pointing out the female as the culprit, the zoo keeper quickly split the female gorilla open and found nothing of the Czech. With which the man from New York shrugged and said, "Guess the Czech's in the male."
Mutt:  Oowah.
Jeff:  Another?
Mutt:  To get the bad taste out?
Jeff:  Recently a guy in Paris nearly got away with stealing several paintings from the Louvre. However, after planning the crime, getting in and out past security, he was captured only two blocks away when his lorry ran out of gas. When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied: I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.
Mutt:  Abba dabba, abba dabba, that’s all folks.

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