National Commentary

Johnny’s World: Call Me Maybe

The cell phone bleats an unwelcome tune. You’re sitting in the coffee shop, in traffic, in the bath, on your couch, at the office, in a fancy restaurant or any other conceivable place, aside from underwater. You look at the phone’s screen and make any assortment of bored, annoyed or perturbed noise to show the world, or the hundreds of people surrounding you (in your mind) that you are far too busy to answer this call. “Ugh, who even calls anymore? I’m so bothered.”

You click the nipple of a silence button and place the phone face down on the nearest surface. You stare at the phone in disgust, make yet another bored noise created in the pit of your voice box, and turn back to your rerun of “House Hunters.” You think to yourself, “I can call her tomorrow when I’m in a better frame of mind.” However, then you realize that it was your mother and you owe her the respect to reach out. You grab the sleek phone, flip it right side up, stare down to see that you in fact have two missed calls, and a voice mailbox with a newly minted 58th message, and open the text message icon.

Your little fingers type away at the speed of sound, “Sorry I couldn’t answer. Am busy. Calling later. Love you.” You receive an instant response from your mother who is no doubt sitting on the phone in hopes that her first born will call back and regale her with the best stories of the week, “Alright. Thought you didn’t love me anymore. Love you.” You look at the phone, immediately turn back to the TV and go a few more days without calling the woman who gave you life. This is me, and I’m almost positive it’s a little bit you too.

Quite unsure as I am about the marvels of modern technology, I am guilty of the heinous crime of believing that a text message is just as good as a phone call. I blame the cell phone companies who give you millions of minutes for one low price and you want to get your money’s worth.

February is a time of seasonal depression. July is busy with parties and festivities, as are the holidays. And don’t get me started about the importance of Purim preparations and planning that dinner party. It seems there’s always an excuse not to talk to someone who’s calling. There are countless excuses for texting instead of a good two-hour talk session.

I knew I had a problem with telephone intimacy the day I “silence nippled” my manager, my mother, someone offering me a big tour for a lot of money, and an ex-best friend. The reason I did it was simple: I didn’t want to be bothered. But the result is that I alienated or angered the people who keep my ship afloat. I get the message, “You just tweeted from your phone, and now you can’t answer?” Reply, “Oh sorry, I was in the bathroom! Calling later! Xoxo.” I did call everyone back the next day, but I thought to myself, when did I get anti-social not only in real life, but also over the phone?

When people constantly call, there is always a chance for bad news. One fear of mine is I get a call that a government official wants me dead or wants my first born. Another fear is that someone calls and says, “We made love 16 months ago, I’m pregnant and I need money.” The second example is obviously not possible, but hopefully you understand my point. Why receive bad news when you could avoid it? It used to be so easy when a letter could be simply lost in the trash. Oops.

After enough explanations to my mama about why I don’t answer the phone I realized there are some people who deserve more than a quick text, even if you are sad, depressed or super busy. A quick call can mean the world to your nearest and dearest, and one must make an effort not to resort to texting at every intersection. Bad news comes and goes, but usually the ones who call you are the ones who love you most. Texting isn’t love.