The Cel Phone by SeanMartin ()
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We hadn’t even gotten the menus when Blair’s phone went off. She looked at me, grinned as she shrugged her shoulders — “Sorry, I have to take this” — and I knew we were off on another marathon date of SuperCelPhoneWoman, able to balance as many as three conversations at a single bound. I stopped listening after a while: I’d lost interest in the conversations — and in her — long ago. Why I even agreed to this date escaped me: she was going to be on that damn thing all night, even when I left her at her door.
Yes, I understand. I get it. Cel phones: necessary evil. But Blair seemed completely incapable of functioning without one. So, with nothing else to do, I sat and looked around the restaurant at the other diners. Almost all of them, it seemed, was locked onto a mobile device of some kind: if not talking, then studying it as intently as an ancient Babylonian text in desperate need of translation.
Then I saw her.
She was cute, in that 60s kind of way, with a pixie cut to her hair. Like me, she was stuck with a date who seemed more interested in telling someone about his recent fishing trip to the Caribbean than talking to her. Her eyes caught mine, and she gave me a “what can you do” kind of grin. I nodded in reply.
Blair continued to talk.
I finally motioned over a waiter and told him I’d be eating at the bar. I then tried to get Blair’s attention, but her angry wave-off told me I didn’t need to bother. So I sat at a stool at the bar and started eating my tortellini, enjoying every moment of the relative silence. A few moments later, I felt someone sitting beside me: it was the girl from the other table. As a plate was put down before her, she laughed. “I think you had the right idea. I’m Gretchen. Hello.”
We talked. It was surprisingly easy. Yes, like everyone else, she had a cel phone but unlike everyone else, she left it at home when she went out. “If they need me that badly, they can wait.” I nodded in complete understanding. She turned and looked at her date’s table. “Oh, watch this. This should be fun.” Her date — whose name was Nick — had gone to the restroom (cel phone in hand, of course), and when he returned, the waiter indicated they’d changed tables, now seating him with Blair. He didn’t even look up to see if Gretchen was there. Neither did Blair. We laughed, turned back to our respective meals and continued to talk like normal human beings out on a social date.
Twenty minutes later, we left. Neither Nick nor Blair noticed. We both told the waiter that our former dates would be picking up the tab, and then we went for a walk. Two hours later, I dropped her off at her apartment, kissed her good night, and went home, happier than I’d been in weeks.
The next morning, Blair called, reading me the riot act. “What happened to you???” When she said, “Wait, I need to take this”, I hung up. Gretchen and I met at a small bistro for lunch and purposely sat as far away as possible from everyone else so we could just talk. It was nice. Four months later, I proposed, and two months after that, Gretchen and I were married in a very small ceremony in the city park. The invitations were very specific: no cel phones allowed, not even to take pictures. Everyone complied (some with a bit of grumbling, of course), and we all had a great time. She and I honeymooned in Paris, with nary a cel phone between us. It was heaven.
Ironically, Nick and Blair apparently did finally notice each other as kindred spirits, and their wedding was — from all accounts — almost surreal: everyone on their phones… including Nick and Blair, both of whom had to be prompted to break off their conversations long enough to say their vows and their I-do’s.
As for Gretch and me, now we have just the one phone between us. Most times, it gets used to take pictures of our son Jason, but that’s about it.