A Death in the Family

4 Aug

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As often happens with death, I never saw it coming. I thought my phone was happy. We had two-and-a-half productive years together, and I was faithful — ridiculously faithful — despite the myriad temptations that would tear us apart. “Awww, you don’t want that faggoty-ass multi-tap keypad shit, bro,” a Vonage vixen honeyed as she mocked my fossil, massaging the sleek curves of a virgin model in her paws. “Look at this: home row, like a cockroach typewriter. You could hack out your dissertation on this bitch.” Whatever the promise, I demurred.

I thought we’d grow old together. I really did. It mattered not that the “6” was worn by overuse, or that the “5” was a Rorschach inkblot, or that the onboard camera seemed to shoot everything through a shower curtain made of potato soup. Its every imperfection was earned. But last week I discovered it had one imperfection too many.

It was a day like any other. The summer heat had rendered my oscillating fan impotent; hot air whistled ’round my living room as I pretended not to notice. The afternoon’s residual numbness was settling into another anonymous evening. My overpriced cable package began its night shift of banal celebrity hagiographies. I sat sweating through my sixth T-shirt of the hour as my sweet, darling cell napped regally on a nearby couch-arm.

Then it began bleating softly for juice, its tinny alarm mewling like an inquisitive kitten. As I’ve done since our first zero-bar emergency, I reached over and attached the adapter. But the adapter was strangely reticent. It clung to either side of the portal, refusing to enter. Hmph. First I wriggled. Then I prodded. Then I began stabbing. All attempts were met with unusual resistance. Borrowing a tactic I learned from Bob Vila — or maybe my father — I clutched the defiant plug in my fist and shouted, “What the fuck?!” at it. That didn’t work either. Somehow, someway, in the seven hours since I’d initially freed my phone from its lifelink, I had utterly destroyed their symbiotic relationship. Had my careless separation damaged something vital? Couldn’t tell. Oh, well. Borrowing a second tactic from Bob Vila — or maybe my father — I waited ten minutes for my phone to recuperate, then began jamming the adapter back into that bastard slit. The phone retaliated by powering off, for good. I thought I heard it chuckling as it went.

I don’t know if you’re aware of what that means, when your Samsung ascends to the everafter and leaves nothing but your phone number. You lose everything. All your photos, gone. Contacts, vapor. Two-and-a-half years of your life float, inaccessible, in the ether. You’re off the grid, baby. You no longer exist. And if this is not rectified, you are very seriously temporarily fucked. Of course, I panicked. How would I obsessively monitor my e-mail while walking? What would my friends do if I lacked alternate means to transmit endless bon mots on Twitter and Facebook? How could I be embarrassed in public by jarring blasts of “Immigrant Song” text alerts or my Tribe Called Quest “Can I Kick It” ringtone? Without these personifiers, I was trapped between dimensions.

This was my third phone in seven years, which in retrospect isn’t bad (I don’t think), especially when you consider that I’d replaced the other two, one against my will as I graduated from one plan to another. I’d never had a model die on me; they were all pampered and treated well. I have three step-siblings, all still in their teens, and they’ve easily gone through that many individually since 2007. (Mishaps include throwing in fits of pique and social ridicule.)

In fact, my poor stepmother’s a Verizon institution who’s endured every possible multiple-hour hell among the LGs. She’s the only person I know who can walk into a wireless retailer and leave with shit it doesn’t even sell: flat-screen TVs, strawberry ice cream, a litter of pugs, and the assistant manager’s Jeep.

So I was expecting the worst when I summoned the wherewithal to ease down Verizon way to dump my cadaver. It’s bad enough that I hate buying anything I can’t eat, drink, watch, or listen to, but I loathe dealing with salesmen, a necessity when it comes to buying a phone. One will snatch your hand the second your eyes lock and then drag you toward the nearest kiosk.

But my experience was relatively painless; the dude transferred me to a better plan, didn’t attempt to nudge me toward the pricier model, and even synched the phone with my Hotmail account, the only drawback being that I’m on two Google groups, so my shorts buzz constantly. (Who knew the Adrian Belew Fan Club was so chatty?) But that didn’t matter. Although I left that air-conditioned din 50 bucks, 36 pictures, and 19 contacts lighter, I was reborn. Charging completed, motherfuckers.

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