The Half-Life of a Phone Conversation

So, there was this: "I've given this guy the best years of my life. Hell, I could be livin' in Jamaica with a sugar daddy right now!." Oh, and this: "How am I supposed to know what you're thinkin' if you don't tell me what you're thinkin'? I'm not a mind reader, Tonya." And this here: "Yeah, you are passive-aggressive... When? How 'bout now... Yes, you are; you always are!" This, too: "I have a feelin' that if I gave it my all--really poured myself into it--I could make a profound impact. Like, I could be the voice of a generation, the Jay-Z of the outdoor patio furniture business." And just today: "Don't even think of putting me on hold again. You do and I will find you when you're chillin', thinkin' it's all good, eatin' nachos, singin' along to some Bieber song-- gettin' the words all wrong--your guard completely down, no clue I'm right there. Right next to you--... Hello!... Hey!... Hey, I'm talkin' to you!!"

Clerks in Mini-Marts, teenagers on rollerblades, dog walkers, mail delivery people, landscapers, Uber drivers, crossing guards, men, women and children seemingly of all ages on their phones in the midst of discussions, deliberations, consults and debates, all chit-chatting, chinwagging and confabbing to who knows who and, lucky us, we get to hear it all day long. Halves of conversations. Snippets of dialogue. Answers to questions we haven't a clue about. Pleading inquiries with no reply. Bits and pieces of outrageous situations that suddenly grab our attention, just as quickly fading in the distance, leaving us to wonder, futilely, whatever became of the kid getting the kidney transplant or the husband's sordid affair with his secretary. And how about that adorable runaway house cat, Mittens, did he ever finally return home to his loving fam?

So, yeah, this is where we are today in this so-called advanced civilization of ours, forced to endure all of the jubilant revelations, plaintive dramas and idle gossip emanating from complete strangers on a regular basis. For better or for worse (who're we kiddin', it's definitely worse), we're now privy to a host of daily soap operas only, unlike the ones on TV, there is no access to the remote; no way to turn them off. No chance of hitting the mute button or clicking over to another channel. Our only recourse is to pretend it doesn't affect us, ya' know, like when you're in the checkout line at the supermarket and a parent does nothing to control their screaming kid having a conniption over not getting every candy bar within arm's reach and you pretend it's no prob, scanning Us Weekly, acting like you really care which celebs' laugh lines are becoming problematic. The difference, of course, is that this isn't just a few minutes in line; this is all day long. Every day. Every... single... day.

I know, I know, I'm doin' the ol' tilting at windmills" thing again, lashing out in frustration while realizing, deep down, there is no actual recourse. The amazing ability to walk around anywhere on earth and talk with others walking around anywhere on earth has, like seemingly all great innovations, its share of negative side effects. Alas, these things are always saddled with a price. Just ask the people living close to airports how much they appreciate the Wright brothers when their house is shuddering and their eardrums are running for cover while their pets pee nervously all over the kitchen floor. Likewise, their opinion of Dr. Andy Hildebrand, the guy that gave us the Auto-Tune, the musical device used to distort vocals, introduced by Cher on her hit, "Believe", and then featured on every third song released afterward for what seemed like forever. Are you kidding me? It was like one after another after another. They just kept comin' nonstop. To the point where you just wanna end it right then and there. Just open an artery and--... Sorry, I digress.

Okay, so here it is, short and sweet: I'm ready to compromise. That's right, I'll throw in the towel never to broach the subject again. You can keep your smartphones with your inane hodgepodge of miscellaneous natterings all being bandied about willy-nilly to a defenseless populace but in return... I need some closure. I need the makers of these devices to stop all their R&D on yet another mind-blowing camera function (yeah, we really don't need access to a person's every facial pore from 500 feet), and invent an app that'll allow others within hearing distance to get the other half of these phone conversations. Just a text version will be fine. Just a yin to all the freakin' yang we have to endure endlessly 'cause, quite frankly, I need to know if the kid got the kidney. I need the skinny on whether the husband ditched the secretary and if so, did the wife take him back? And, dammit all, whatever became of poor Mittens?!!