Hung Up on Upwardly Mobile

By Richard Boughton

My wife has developed a shocking appendage on her left hand. It is red, rectangular and about the size of the hand itself. There is no cure for this curious swelling, no surgery presently available for removal of the growth and no medicine known that might shrink or eradicate the tumour – for the appendage of which I’m speaking is not corporeal but is composed of manmade elements, plastic, rubber, circuitry, a venous system of tiny wires and God knows what else. The appendage is a BlackBerry phone.

I thought at first that it was a temporary inflammation and that it would surely fall away of its own accord in due time, like a wart or a Gila monster, but the thing has persisted now for over a year and I’m resigned, therefore, towards accepting the malady, my only option being to grow accustomed to the presence of the eternal blemish as one might do with a failed tattoo or a gerbil-sized mole. Nobody’s perfect, right? We are all plagued by these little flaws and can certainly repress our regret for the substandard part in favour of the comely whole.

I must add, however, that it would certainly assist in my efforts to discount the flaw if she would stop her endless fiddling with the thing, for this constant attention to the unlovely part merely heightens my own awareness of the same, bringing it ever before my otherwise compassionate eyes at all times of the day and night, throughout every activity and mutual venture, while eating, while sleeping, while walking, while sitting, while watching a movie or engaging in foreplay. Yes, and worse.

She adores her foreign appendage. She caresses it, pokes at it, laughs at it and talks to it, engrossed in its language of beeps and bells. I’ve not seen such fascination since the days when my 3-month-old son used to gaze and drool in delight at the mobile that danced above his crib.

Whatever else may be said of the BlackBerry (and the iPhone, and other reduplicating malignancies), it is certain that this gadget has effected and will continue to effect far-reaching changes at the core of every society it has infected. Technology is only the tip of the iceberg. In the same way that the automobile is more than just a machine used to convey a person from point A to point B, the BlackBerry is a personal accessory, a form of jewellery, a status symbol, a thing of envy and desire for which people will beg and steal, even trample if need be. It simply must be possessed.

Moreover, the BlackBerry has entirely altered the dynamics of the male-female relationship. In former days it was expected that a man would talk to his wife or girlfriend at dinner or drinks or through the course of a romantic stroll and so on. Indeed, I used to make little lists of things to say in advance of a date so as not to appear boring or disinterested, and would peek at my list at opportune moments in order to refresh the conversation and appear lively and engaged.

Well, those days are gone, and man’s burden has been considerably lightened, thanks to the incomparable charm and appeal of the mobile phone. Try talking to your wife now, when she’s busy at poking and stroking and caressing her handset. I tell you, you can talk to the air till you’re blue in the face – or at least until she tells you to shut up because you’re interrupting the flow of her digital interactions. Take a look around next time you go out for a meal. How many women are talking to their mates? How many are fixated on their BlackBerry phones?

I recall a television commercial that ran in America some few years ago. The commercial went something like this: A man is sitting in his chair watching TV while his wife prepares to go out somewhere. The wife pops in and out of the room to pose various questions to her otherwise oblivious husband.

“Is that what you’re going to wear tonight?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Did you remember to buy the milk today?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Does this dress make me look fat?”

“Uh-huh.”

Well, the shoe is now on the other foot, men. Chances are that you will no longer hear things like “You don’t talk to me anymore” or “You don’t love me anymore” or “You don’t even know what I wore today.” Nope, from here on out it’s “Uh-huh, uh-huh.”

Who knew during all these eons of inter-relational challenges that all it would take to truly please a woman was a song of beeps and buzzes and clucks? I daresay the modern home is quieter now, free of the many former gripes and grievances that otherwise required time and attention. One should be content, I suppose. One should count his blessings (or his lucky stars).

And yet I can’t help but feel that something’s missing. That something’s been stolen away. And I kind of miss talking to my wife now and then. I’ll bet she doesn’t even know what I wore today.

Filed under: Practical Paradise

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