Monday, September 16, 2013

Requiem for a Clamshell

Photo credit: Sophie Kalish
I was stirring pasta the other evening when for like the hundredth time – closer to the thousandth, actually – my old clamshell phone slipped from my clutzy hand and crashed to the hard floor, skittering across the tiles. Just then the phone rang, confirming it still worked. I bent down and picked up. My wife was asking what’s for dinner. 
After hanging up, and before returning to the pasta, I took a moment to gaze fondly at the burrs in my Samsung’s battered plastic casing. The scratched and cramped screen. I felt gratitude. Sadness. My little Samsung never failed me. It stood by me for a million or so minutes. 
And now I’m about to clam it shut. Forever.
Next week, with a heavy heart, I plan to buy an iPhone. I can no longer live the life that’s been assigned to me without mobile access to email, the Web, and a decent camera. I’m traveling to New York City to read from my forthcoming novel in Greenwich Village on September 30th. I’ll need to text people for appointments, update my Facebook page. Take nice photos of old friends to post.
My simple Samsung won’t cut it.
For a while I thought of starting a Lonely Clamshell Club, for Luddites like me who own phones like mine. Phones that don’t respond to the name Siri. With cameras barely better than what my daughter constructed in sixth grade from a metal can with a pin hole.
Perhaps we’ll have a requiem. I’ll corral my wife and two dogs and twelve-year daughter, who has experience burying several goldfish and canaries in our backyard. We will dig a small hole and lower the phone into the grave. At the last minute, I’ll snap my fingers and run inside and grab an external floppy adapter I used years ago to back up a long-gone laptop. Gently I’ll place it in the dirt, next to the clamshell, much as Egyptian royalty buried their mummified dead with jewelry and pets. 
Somberly we’ll stand around the small pit, dogs disappointed we’re not burying a canary. Delivering the eulogy, I’d tell how my phone anchored me to the basics even as the world whirled around me, a mess of iPads and Tweets and Emoticons. I purposefully clung to it, not wanting to be distracted by a fancy screen during a hike through the woods. Not wanting to obsessively text, thus ruining my enjoyment of the sad sweet melody of Fur Elise, played by my daughter on the piano.
 We toss spoonfuls of dirt atop bygone technology. We play a cassette tape of “As Time Goes By” on an outdated recorder, as background music for my Samsung’s requiem. It's sung, appropriately, by Sam, the piano player on Casablanca. Then we toss the cassette in the grave too.
And so technology, and time, goes by. May you rest in peace, every obsolete part of you.


Talli Roland said...

I miss my clamshell phone, too. I long for the simple days!

David Kalish said...

Thanks for your comment, Talli. With just two weeks of iPhone, I'm already finding it indispensible. Sigh.

Incidentally my blog has moved to

Look foward to seeing your comments there!

Dave Kalish