Butt then, maybe I’ll call you

We just spent a very confused moment staring at the caller ID that pops up on our TV screen and wondering how I could be calling us when I am sitting right here clearly NOT calling us. Turns out it was just my derriere dialing. Another attack of the butt dial.

Butt-dialing is, of course, what happens when the cell phone in your pocket just randomly decides to telephone someone of its own volition. The idea being that your behind — get it? — has probably dialed someone.

As it turns out, I did answer but my derriere had little of importance to say. As I would later discover upon the quizzical queries of friends, I have apparently butt-dialed more people in the two weeks I’ve had my fancy new flat screen cellular phone than in all the years previous.

Relics

Mr. Wonderful and I are not Luddites. We embrace technology and love our stuff. That said, we tend to embrace it AFTER someone else has worked all the bugs out. Accordingly, we’ve been bravely carting around two of the oldest working cellular phones in humanity for quite some time.

They weren’t quite the brick-like bag phones of the 1980s but, being “flip phones,” they weren’t far off that mark.

Every single time I answered my phone in front of someone in the under 21 crowd, I received a startled gasp that such an antiquity was still seen outside a museum. This was usually followed by a query as to the existence of an 8-track to match.

A few weeks ago it became apparent that Mr. Wonderful’s phone was on its last leg, or antennae or whatever it is that cellular phones rely on to reliably drop your calls. His phone reached a point where you could hear it only by cupping your hands over the thing and repeatedly shouting “huh? What’s that? Come again?”

If you didn’t already feel full on “geezer” just holding the thing, going through THAT act would definitely put you over the edge.

Still, we did what any technological chicken does when faced with having to research and purchase new equipment; we stuck our heads in the sand and ignored the problem. Finally, one day he announced that the phone would no longer make or receive calls. At all.

I tried to convince him that this was a small and not insurmountable problem. It still made a nice paperweight right?

New

Unfortunately, after five years of faithful service his old phone had finally given up the ghost. Five years in cellular contract time is a lifetime indeed. In the span since we had last purchased phones our old provider had been swallowed up by a new provider who, it would turn out, was disinclined to continue the low, low rates we had previously enjoyed.

We stood in their showrooms in need of new phones and this, I assure you, is to sales people what blood in the water is to sharks. Upon apprising us that our new contract — necessary to purchase new phones without having to sell a kidney — would cost roughly twice as much for the exact same plan, I literally gasped.

“But the other company only charged us half that!” I sputtered. “And yet they are now out of business” they responded. Touche.

We left the showroom with pockets lighter, a monthly bill doubled, and the sense that we had just purchased phones that may be marginally smarter than we are. Where once I could push a few buttons and make a call, now I must tap, then slide, then tap again.

Choices

There is a menu feature “contacts” or “favorites” I can never recall. Having decided if you are a “favorite” or just a “contact,” I then choose if I wish to call, send a video, send a photo or just send a message. Finally, I get to push the appropriate button to connect via my method of choice.

Usually, by this time the auto-lock that is supposed to prevent all that “butt dialing” (but rarely does) has engaged, the phone freezes up and I have to start the whole process fresh.

Frankly, by this time I could probably have just driven to your house and spoken to you directly. Perhaps I could just drop you a line in the mail. Or, I could just wait for my phone to “butt dial” again.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt enjoys an old-fashioned letter. She welcomes comments (in writing!) via LifeOutLoud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; or visit her online blog for photos and more at http://www.KymberlyFosterSeabolt.com.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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