I can remember laughing at my niece and nephew, not too many years ago.
We had gathered for the holidays at my mother’s house in Camden. The kids were not quite in their teens, but already had fairly active social lives. This was a couple of years before it became federal law that every person in America above the age of three had to have a cell phone surgically implanted in their faces, the better to talk during movies, concerts, and funeral eulogies. But the days of rotary phones were long gone. No one had those.
    Except for my mother. She had five of them. And they confounded the kids to no end. They spent hours trying to figure out how to get them to work, pushing their fingers into the dial holes, sort of like that scene in “Back to the Future” when Michael J. Fox can’t figure out how to open a soda because he’s used to twist off caps.
    But dang, how time and technology flies! Computers, cell phones, music, you name it – the second you buy something, it’s useless. Obsolete. Worth $500 in the store; worth $5 in the parking lot ten minutes after you buy it.
    It depresses me to no end that James Bond flicks have no more wow factor, at least in the gadgetry department. That’s because there’s nothing – not one cool thing Bond ever had in nearly fifty years in print and cinema – that any of us can’t pick up at Wal Mart today, except maybe the Aston-Martin or the Walther PPK.
    Of course, like everything else, Bond is going retro – two fisted, hard-headed, a little on the thug side – because retro is cool and ultimately, we all need to be reminded that Bond was the original bad asp, even without Aston-Martin or the Walther PPK.
    What bugs me more than anything else is the fact that technology shows me more and more every day what an old fud I’ve become. From rock and roller to curmudgeon in the click of a mouse.  I empathize and identify with the late, great Lewis Grizzard, who once said, “I never trusted technology. And technology, by my definition, is anything I can’t eat, drink, or wear.”
One example is the iPOD music player my Beloved bought a month ago because she thought that storing some of those 500 gazillion CDs we have, in something the size of a box of Tic Tacs, is a cool idea.
    She’s right; it’s a terrific idea. The problem is, after a month, I still can’t figure out how the damn thing works. I think I’m putting music into it, but it steadfastly refuses to play it back to me. It flat out won’t acknowledge me. By the time I figure out how it works I might as well just throw it back in the box with all those old 8 Tracks and 45s – not that anyone under the age of 30 knows what those are.
    The difference is, they could figure out my old 8-Track push button player faster than I can figure out our iPod.
    Another frightening moment was a conversation I had with a customer service representative from my cell phone provider. I don’t remember now what prompted it, nor am I certain of what we actually discussed. The only phrase I recall in the entire conversation was, “Gosh, I haven’t seen your calling plan in years. I don’t think that information is even on file anymore.”
    What? I just got this phone last, uh…okay, I got it several years ago. But apparently, in order to change my area code, I’ll probably have to buy into another rate plan, one that will undoubtedly feature a myriad of services I don’t understand and will never use. I never even knew the phone service I have now, old as it is, had text messaging capability. I accidentally found the in-box not too long ago and discovered approximately four years worth of text messages I never knew I had.
When I was a kid, I used to laugh at my dad, poke fun at his irascibility. He steadfastly refused to get with the times. When the craze was those push button digital watches, he kept his old wind up Seiko, which I still have. He used to always say he wanted a Mickey Mouse watch because he could see the big numbers on the dial and more important, he could see Mickey’s big white gloves pointing to those numbers. When CB radios were all the craze, he absolutely thumbed his nose at them, pointing out that as long as he was driving that second-hand Dodge Polara, he would never, ever have a need to be concerned what part of the highway the Smokies were staking out.
    Alas, now I understand the man clearly. He was tired of the sensory overload, such as it was; I’m getting there faster every day. He wanted a Mickey Mouse watch; I think I want a Jitterbug.
    A Jitterbug?
    Yeah; that’s right. It’s a cell phone with large, easy-to-read numbers painted on larger and even easier to punch buttons. It makes and receives phone calls and does have voice mail, and that’s about it, at least, that’s my understanding of it. In other words, it’s a phone; nothing more; nothing less. The Mickey Mouse watch of cell phones, if you will.
    I hear you, Dad. I hear you.