FALLING INTO DISGRACELAND 

I decided that I would help out via what I do best: shopping.

Congratulate me. I've finally joined the 21st century; I got myself a cellie. Of course, by cellie I mean one of those highly annoying devices that beep during movies and broadcast diners' conversations about warts and toe fungus in quiet restaurants. It seems now that I, too, can join the legions of Chatty Cathys that drive haphazardly while gossiping away about their bitchy co-workers. I'm very excited. It seems surprising to me that I've gone so long without getting a cell phone. Both my parents have one, as does my sister and even my brother (still in high school). Basically, the only other person in my family who wasn't wireless was my baby sister, and she doesn't even drive yet. It was beginning to appear sort of pathetic. At first, I thought I was sort of off-put by two of my dearest friends in the world. Both of them have always had an aversion to cells. I think they thought it was too "conspicuous consumption": "Look at me, I can talk on the phone wherever I want." And, of course, both of them were much in demand. With a cell, there was no excuse for them to not answer the phone. Not if it was in the middle of the day and someone really needed to talk to them. My view was somewhat different. Mainly because I'm one of the original conspicuous consumers and because I've never been that much in demand. I thought it would be sort of nice to have people NEED to talk to me. Or, really, just want to talk to me. But mainly I didn't get a cell because A) I was lazy and B) I was not financially suited for another expenditure. Neither of those two things has changed. I just made a decision. I hate to say it, but ... if September 11th showed us anything other than how totally unprepared we were for domestic terrorism, it was how useful cell phones are in modern society. Most of the information we know about the plane hijackings came from people calling their loved ones on air and cell phones. It's sad, but without the cells, there would be so many questions left unanswered. And I know there are people who aren't down with this, but I like the idea that some people got to say goodbye to their families. The other part of this tragedy is that everyone has really pitched in to help out, and I felt like I needed to do my part. Only I wasn't sure what to do exactly. I gave some money at the grocery store and at the pet store, but it didn't seem enough. I'm not really comfortable in the rah-rah wear of flag T-shirts and Uncle Sam ties, and, really, what good does that do anyway? Besides making us look like goobers on international television. (I'm sick of people always talking about how stylish the French are; I think we should lead our own stylish American campaign, but that's certainly neither here nor there.) I thought of giving blood, but every time I've tried in the past, it's never gone well. It seems almost worth it to keep my blood in my body. I decided that I would help out via what I do best: shopping. (I recently went through my closet and realized that I had pretty much gotten everything at fire-sale prices. As in, if you're not desperate to get rid of it, I don't want it. I also found an outfit that I had forgotten I owned. I bought it, put it away somewhere, something else got piled on top of it, and then, when I cleaned the closet two months later, I had to look at the tags -- yes, still there -- to determine where it came from). There's no question we need to get the economy moving again. And what better way to show consumer confidence than by buying? Because while I didn't have enough of the extra green for 100 shares of Coca-Cola or some sort of armament company, I did have enough credit for a cell. So now I'm in the 21st century. And I'm glad (I was in an automobile accident not so long ago and a cell phone would have come in very handy then), but I'm sad it had to take this to get me here. It certainly wasn't worth it. But now I've got to get busy. It's time to do some more shopping.

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