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In Other Words / Calling all dinosaurs: Yearning for a life less complicated

Published 6:57 am, Thursday, April 3, 2014
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I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but for a long time, I was carrying around a cell phone from the Bush administration. (No, not that Bush administration). It was a Samsung flip-phone, and I became attached to it for a variety of reasons, the main one being that even a moron could operate it. I am not suggesting I'm a moron, but when it comes to electronic devices, I'm missing the techie gene.

Basically, it was a phone that satisfied my two basic needs: making and receiving phone calls. I felt secure knowing that when I heard the chirpy little ring, all I had to do was flip the top and make contact with the person on the other end. I was content. I was happy. It doesn't take much to please me. I don't need all the glitzy gimmicks.

"But, it doesn't offer features," a friend chided. "It's non-functional. Don't you want to be optimally functional?"

Dare I tell her, I'm so dysfunctional, I no longer own a microwave oven -- that microwaves frighten me? When mine broke, I never replaced it.

"Why can't I lead an uncomplicated life?" I asked.

"Nobody can, "she said. "It's 2014. You're supposed to be complicated."

In its defense, my phone did have a few extra perks: email access and a Media Center just like a house, except a smaller version including icons allowing me to expand my horizons if I chose to do so. It had games, music and videos, a built-in camera and a navigational system.

My ring tones offered an array of sounds: Belly Dance, Hip Hop Guy and Late Night. If I was feeling particularly adventurous: Sonic Boom, Spanish Guitar and Trip to Heaven. I selected, Serene, which sounded exactly as one would expect: boring. I like keeping things simple. I didn't need to be knocked off my axis. Life is loud enough. When it comes to phones, I prefer peace and quiet. I like my phone the way I like my men: strong, functional and practically silent.

After a while, I noticed, however, that everyone I knew, including my grandchildren, had phones with accessory packages that were right up there in the snob-appeal arena. My kids didn't understand how I lived this long without being compelled to own the latest state-of-the art phone. They claimed I was so out of the loop as to be an embarrassment, not only to myself, but also to the world at large.

I assured them I didn't need a cell phone to define me. I'm okay with the fact that my little dinosaur did the job and was a comfortable appendage in my hand. Yet, after much prodding, I finally succumbed to an iPhone. It was a generous gift from a generous person. I didn't really need it, but the pressure was too great to refuse. It's taken me months to figure out all the perks.

If that wasn't bad enough, last week someone asked how a writer could live without an iPad. A person who still carries around notebooks and pens, doesn't appreciate being taken down for such a minor peccadillo.

I find I am defending myself daily. If it's not one device, it's another. To add to the misery, my daughter confronted me yet again.

"I can't believe that you don't own a Bluetooth. It's not only illegal, but it's dangerous driving while holding a cell phone."

I explained that I don't talk on the phone when operating heavy machinery.

"What if someone calls when you're on the road? Don't you pick up?"

"Only to tell them I can't talk."

"You need a Bluetooth," she reiterated. "The sooner the better."

So I gave in and bought one. I don't know how it works. It's become a real nuisance, and I don't do well with gizmos hanging off my ear ... unless they're diamond earrings.

I liked life the way it was before I went high-tech, and if that means being a dinosaur, so be it.

Everything was fine until last week when a woman, who just celebrated her 85th birthday, whipped out her new iPhone 5 -- a gift from her son.

"Very handsome," I said. "I have the same one."

"Dear," she told me, "It's been life-altering. Don't you agree?"

Things are just not the way they used to be. It's gotten so, I'm afraid to leave the house, and should probably wear a Life Alert pendant, in case I "trip, fall, and can't get up," which, upon reflection, might be the only time I get some uninterrupted rest and relaxation.

Judith Marks-White is a Westport writer, and her "In Other Words" appears every other Friday. She can be reached at: joodth@snet.net or at www.judithmarks-white.com