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See ya, cellphone!Today is one wet, cold February morning, a bit too nippy for dropping my beloved wife off at an early seminar.

“Should finish by 1 o’clock,” says my brown-eyed bride, handing me her cellphone. “If it’s earlier, I’ll call you.”

“How? I have your phone.”

Laura replies, “I’ll borrow someone’s,” then gently sighs.

She does that often, the sighing. So do lots of people around you, notes Screen Four, one of six playing in my head.

I look at the cellphone. I love gadgets. Most ADHD folks do. But we don’t want to spend time learning to operate them. And cellphones are anything but plug-and-play, especially Laura’s new model.

She sees the panic in my eyes. “You can do this, honey. Just push this” – one button is depressed (or just really anxious, offers Two) – “and you’ll talk to me.”

I walk hesitantly toward the car. A soft voice wafts to me. “Babe? Have a nice time at the mall, but please … do be here by 1. Don’t get distracted.”

Distracted? To whom does she refer? asks Screen Three.

Ten minutes later, I’m tackling a both-hands-on-the-wheel icy curve at unwise speed as Laura’s phone rings. You have to get that, advises Four. You don’t know how to call her back … only how to answer.

As I grab her encased phone, it flips out of my hand and bounces on the passenger seat. Two rings left! comments Six, a tad smug for my taste.

“Wheeling” with my left, I lunge right, grab the bouncing phone, and try a one-handed “squirt,” the way cartoon characters pop bananas out of peels in a single motion. That squirt works in real life, too.

Only better, laughs One.

The phone blasts free of its case and spirals in the air. My left hand begs the car to kiss that curve as my right swats at the floating phone. I miss. It drops.

Forcing my honkin’ big hand down the tight space between seat and console only makes a shy cell slide deeper. The ringing stops.

The caller is forever lost to the cosmos, sighs Four, a bit dramatically.

system failureFinally conquering the curve, I screech to a stop. Again the phone rings, muffled in its prison between the seats.

Two quickly suggests, Shove the ice scraper straight down – hard – and pull it at an angle against the hidden phone. This will easily press one of the buttons, which then will answer the call for you.

“Call back!” I shout. “Can’t get to the phone!”

[My “caller” wife later tells me she hears the ringing stop as the phone connects. “But I could only make out a muffled, shouting voice.”]

Rings stop, but I am a man in motion. I, sweating despite winter winds fiercely blowing through four open doors, triumphantly retrieve the phone. I regroup and zip on to the mall. I find the T-Mobile kiosk. I pour forth my woes to two college-aged, Middle Eastern chaps.

The first man steps away, quickly. His increasing distance does not prevent my seeing him –

Shaking with laughter, notes One.

The second man stays and listens, struggling to keep the “I’m concerned” look pasted to his face.

“Need to know who called, but I can’t work this phone!”

Work it?” he asks, confused. “What happened?”

“It rang!”

Look how big his pupils are, says Five. That can be a sign of low light.

 Or pure amazement, adds One.

“Monica,” says the man as he studies Laura’s phone. “Twice. You should call her back.”

Say, Blackie, your own eyes are big now, Five observes.

T-Mobile Sparq“You can do it,” the man says, encouraging me to make the call. He points to the full battery power indicator and the five-bar signal, even inside the mall.

“You dial,” I beg, overwhelmed.

He punches a single button to re-dial. The call connects. Three exults, A miracle! Female voice speaks.

“Here,” says the kind, young man who stayed at the kiosk but may quit as soon as I leave. “Somebody named Monica answered.”

Hear the sarcasm? queries One. Like you wouldn’t understand Monica might answer Monica’s phone.

I thank the man, reach for the phone –

He’s being really helpful, marvels Two. Look how far out he’s holding it!

–  and breathlessly ask for my wife. Monica complies. Laura greets. Troubled, I tell my tele-troubles.

Laura sympathizes. I know this –

You know this, says Two, because wild laughter – the kind borne of a woman sharing unfettered sadness – strains through the tiny speakers.

Recovering, Laura bids me to “return soon, but not to the building where you dropped me off.” She sighs. “Wrong address.” As Laura gives new directions, Five murmurs, She walked a bitter-cold half-mile in heels and business suit!

Six barks, So? That’s nothing like these phone problems.

Reassuring my wife I’ll find the right place in time, I express my love, then ask the salesman how to hang up. He simply points, suddenly busy with a passing teen.

“Thanks!” I shout, and he waves. Out to the car I dash. The first three miles pass in great time. Then I see a beckoning sign.

Say, asks Screen Five, isn’t that road to the right a short cut?

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Postscript – Mock me for being “cell stupid,” will you? I don’t know if this is ADHD, or our daughter’s blonde roots, or a sign of the techno-turbulence we experience with phones that change faster than cheetahs run, but here’s the text Leah sent from her new IPhone 5:

“Trying to attach a picture, Dad. Too dumb for my smartphone.”