I have offered up many excuses as to why I am one of two people left in America who does not carry a cell phone. The painful truth is this: I can’t face the stress of choosing ringtones.
There are thousands, probably millions of choices. Cell users don’t just plug numbers into their phone memory cards. They can choose a different ringtone for every friend, neighbor and pizza parlor.
I’m still don’t know which color socks go with which pants. How can I be expected to match all my friends to their appropriate theme music?
Back in the days when Georgie Washington, Tommy Jefferson and I were running around together chopping down cherry trees with an ax that contained no digital chips whatsoever, telephones rang. That’s it. There was one sound for all telephones, and when you heard it, you picked up the receiver and talked.
You sat while you did this because the receiver – about the size as six or seven cell phones combined – was attached by a cord to the phone base, which was even clunkier. If you wanted a portable phone, you bought a 12-foot extension cord so you could pace.
I am trying to explain this very slowly because I know 20-somethings like my daughter have no concept of a phone that you won’t let you talk and drive at the same time.
My kiddo makes her living peddling cell phones, by the way. I’m an embarrassment to her.
Her phone rings frequently and always to the beat of a different digital drummer.
On a recent visit, I knew that as soon as I heard Trisha Yearwood belting from the vicinity of Melissa’s hip holster, “She’s in love with the boy, yeah, she’s in love with the boy…,” the cell was about to be unslung and Dad was about to be dumped for the boyfriend. Again.
She assigned me a personal ringtone for me, too, though I forget what it is. “Teddy Bears on Parade,” probably.
Here’s another one for you old-timers. Do you remember when restaurants had tabletop jukeboxes? Some meals could get annoying if several booths dropped dimes at the same time and you were forced to hear a cacophony of competing songs.
Well, it’s back to the future, but with the twist befitting our dwindling attention spans. Now cell phones across the restaurant blast short bursts of a mixture of tunes, ranging from The Ohio State University fight song to Nickelback’s “Rock Star” to the “Law & Order” bing-bongs. You don’t know whether to cheer, sing or approach the bench to take the oath.
These modern innovations are not without their merits, of course. They’re wonderful for pranks.
My brother Dan had to borrow a cell phone from my sister. So Martha set the ringtone for the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You” but wouldn’t tell him how to change it. Then when he got with his tough-guy buddies, she called as often as possible so they could hear David Cassidy bubble-gumming from Dan’s shirt pocket.
If I ever break down and buy a phone from the offspring, I think I have a plan. I will download the phone tones those old clunkers had when I was a kid. Then I’ll leave the phone at home because the real truth is this: I don’t want to take calls no matter who sings the ringtone. Even David Cassidy.