The bald-headed, naked truth is that I am about to lose it.

I am really good—maybe even extraordinary — at what one might term “the art of loss.” Coats, gloves, hats, golf clubs, car keys, eyeglasses, and wallets have slipped through my watery grip and ‘butter’  fingers with more regularity than I care to admit. ‘Bumbershoots’ are a particular specialty. I have misplaced enough of these to keep a small town bone dry during a monsoon, especially if that small town was, say, the size of Chicago. (The umbrella that you found in your office recently, was more likely than not, originally lost by Cantrell.) At one time or another, I have forgotten the location of my car, lost a sofa from the bed of a pick-up truck and once, for eighteen hellish minutes, lost an eight-year-old nephew at the mall!

The “it”—i.e. the item ‘most likely’ to be lost this time— is my new cell phone. Officially named the ‘Techna Wizard 990, it replaces my recently deceased “Brick 100.” The latter died two weeks ago, after a decade of faithful service.  Towards the end, the Brick just failed to respond t0 anyone. It was also leaking what looked an awful lot like transmision fluid.

The old phone had been contemptuously nick-named ‘Old Yeller’ by my friends and family as it was said that this is what I morphed into when taking–or making—calls on the thing. Its replacement is an all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipotent, vibrating, “whirring” dervish of transmitters, receivers, “radar cameras'” “space eyes,” Zodiac calendars, hurricane predictors, laser alarms, and all manner of geosynchronous “do hickeys”. Among its various and sundry features is what appears to be an atomic clock. (The cell phone company, I guess, envisions me as having frequent footraces with real, live atoms.)

The new phone’s brochure boasts of a “…a sleek, sexy, art-deco, aerodynamic design”. Sexy!? Aerodynamic!? —the latter feature, being useful, I guess for throwing  the Wizard great distances after unsatisfactory encounters with cellular customer service. (Of course, you’d think  that if that were the case, they would’ve designed the damn thing in the shape of a boomerang.) The Wizard’s list of features baffles my already boggled mind —so much so that I am actually tempted to violate one of the main precepts of The Testosterone Credo and actually crack what seems to be a 1,500-page Instruction Manual and Online Tutorial. (To my male readers: Fear not,  I have not as yet succumbed to this temptation. Pray for me though.)

Our relationship worked—-me and the Brick’s. For one thing, it was impossible to lose—even for Cantrell. It had size and weight and ‘heft’—about three kilograms as I recall. It was a cell phone for a real man—especially if that man was, say, Jim Brown or possibly Sasquatch. The phone grew hot if more than two calls came in within a short period of time. Because of a cracked facade and “exposed innards,” you could actually smell the acrid smoke of an incoming call. (No need for one of those ubiquitous, obnoxiuos ringtones so prevalent among today’s state-of-the art models.) About ninety seconds into any cellular conversation Old Yeller would overheat, giving me a great excuse to either end the call or going to find an oven mitt. Receiving and making calls was more than a mere business transaction or handling a family matter, it was  confirmation that the owner still had an above average threshold of pain. (You can bet that the new, “fancy, dancy” ‘art deco’ Tehna Wizard doesn’t give you that same reaffirmation of manhood!)

Over the years. I’d managed to keep Old Yeller working through the deft use of paper clips, tin foil, rubber bands and a weekly drop of Freako’s Bar-be-que Sauce. And the thing functioned well too…in reasonably close  proximity to the carrier’s headquarters, although elsewhere, signal reception could be ‘dubious’.  A deal breaker for many users, I found the lack or range and spotty reception to be  beneficial when trying to avoid bill collectors, relatives wanting to either borrow money or visit, as well as insufferable telemarketers.

My new carrier, Inter-Galactic Mobile, boasts that users can talk with anyone at anytime as long as the call is initiated within two million light years of Earth. Now, (sadly, I might add), anyone can chat me up, even “ET”—to say nothing of those same relatives seeking to borrow money or visit. (I vaguely even remember the Wizard salesman mentioning something about now being able to talk with dead people—- though I remain steadfast in my refusal to try.)

Another reason that me and the Brick, “got along” was that it minded its own business—unlike the Wizard, which minds mine. It constantly pushes, prods, scolds, rebuffs and reminds me of “Things to Do” —-meetings, birthdays, reports that are due, and trash that needs to be taken out. The Wizard does not readily accept excuses for missed appointments, deadlines or non-performance either. (Perhaps it would be more aptly named  the Conspiracy 2010.) The thing is sneaky too. Last week, after I fell asleep, it went behind my back and without my permission or authorization, it contacted one of those Internet travel agencies and booked a two week cruise to Jamaica! I hope that among its myriad of features is a part-time job so that it can afford to pay for the trip.

As you can surmise, me and The Wizard are still getting to know each other. So far our relationhip is tenuous and uneasy. The Wizard is having ‘its way’ with me. My talent at the ‘art of loss’ may, for once, come in handy.

And soon too.

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Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, ketchup, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, planning his own funeral and other gnarly things that caused him to scratch his head in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.