Editor’s Notebook: Talking on the phone

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_D5C5045brianby Brian Clarey

He’s 12 years old, brilliant, with a great sense of comedic timing.

But the kid doesn’t know how to talk on the phone.

It came up just the other day, when his pal called my wife’s cell to make weekend plans and she handed the receiver over.

He just stared at it for a second.

“Hello?” he said.

“You have to hold it to your ear,” she said.

He did.

“Hello?” he said.

“Tell him who you are,” she said.

“He knows who I am,” he said.

They don’t talk on the phone, These Kids These Days. My boy and his friend communicate mostly through whatever weird, free texting app they use on their devices or while they’re swordifying things on the Xbox. As long as there’s a wifi signal, this kid is within reach of everyone he knows. He doesn’t have a phone. He doesn’t need one. To him, it’s about as useful as talking on a walkie-talkie — which, ironically, he sort of enjoys, for the novelty factor.

We haven’t had a house phone in a decade, but if we did I imagine this kid giving it a wide berth, like he does with the lawnmower or the clippers I use to shave the hair off my shoulders. It just wouldn’t apply to his life.

Meanwhile, my phone has been on a long, slow decline for the past month or so, first wiping out all my contacts, then refusing to accept calls and finally showing great disrespect for all four new chargers and the single battery I’ve purchased in this time: six hours of charge time gives me about 90 minutes of battery life. It freezes up every time I try to use GPS. The camera won’t load.

I’ll be upfront and say I’ve dropped it. A few times. And the screen is cracked in such a way so that every time I hold it to my head, it cuts my ear a little bit.

I hate my phone.

But unlike my son, I am crippled without it. I’m missing important calls and texts, unable to find contact phone numbers.

And at this point, the only phone numbers I remember by heart are the one to my parents’ old house… and one for my best friend’s house, which was right down the street when I was 12 years old.