Saturday, September 19, 2020

Life & Style

Unplugged

It’s one of those shoreline days that looks like a movie. The Sound is flat calm and boats lazily roll through the water. Clouds dot the sky in little lumps or gauzy strokes like cotton batting. I’m on a high deck looking out over the water. There are three people with me, but I’m the only one looking out, savoring this view before the long winter sets in.

Everyone else is hunched over their phones.

Finally, someone says, “Why are we all on our phones?”

“I’m not on my phone,” I reply.

“Oh yeah, you’re not.”

“I hate my phone.”

It’s true. I hate my phone. I’m thankful for it when my car blows a tire or I want to text a friend when I’m out in hopes that the friend will join me. But I hate the spam calls, the spam texts, the way it could consume a lovely moment of looking out at the water and seeing a sailboat go by. So, I put it in my purse and don’t look at it unless I have to look at it.

“I’m getting off my phone,” my friend says. He shuts it off and shoves it into his back pocket. Gone.

The other two look up as if being woken from a deep sleep and say, “Oh yeah, what am I doing?”

“Look at that sky!” someone says.

Okay, this all sounds very heavy handed, but it’s completely true. It really happens like that. And once the phones are discarded, everyone sits around looking at how beautiful everything is. We start joking about different things and by the time the food arrives we are laughing until we hurt. My cheeks have that thing going on where they ache, but it’s a good ache. An I’m-having-such-a-good-time-my-cheeks-are-suffering ache. If my phone rings I don’t hear it because it’s way at the bottom of my purse. I don’t put it on the table next to my water glass. I don’t want it to have a place at dinner with my friends. After dinner is over I check it and see that there is nothing doing. Relief.

These past two weeks have involved the loss of a close family friend, a cracked front tooth, a brake job on my car, and an impending medical procedure that I’d rather not detail. Everything will be okay, not to worry. However, when I go downtown for a drink with friends tonight, you can bet I won’t have my phone sitting out. If it rings, I’ll hope it’s a wrong number or a scammer from a number in Idaho that doesn’t leave a message. If someone texts, I’ll hope it’s just a bit of nonsense that I can respond to tomorrow. . . or never.

What I want is to be unplugged from that world. I won’t care who’s battling political on Facebook or how many likes my last posting got. I won’t need to know who just emailed me with a special offer for discount meds from Canada that I won’t ever order. If I bid on an eBay something, I won’t care if I won or got outbid. If that creepy robotic scam caller who claims to be from the IRS leaves another message, I won’t even care to delete it.

Summer is over and autumn is roaring in with torrential rainstorms, falling temperatures, and leaves turning from deep green to crimson and blazing orange. Soon pumpkins will squat on front porches and kids will run around in crazy costumes, hopped up on Milky Ways, Twizzlers, and pure adrenaline. I don’t want to miss a moment of it.

I have my own version of the old hippie phrase uttered by Timothy Leary, acid guru, in the sixties. Mine goes like this: Tune out, turn off, drop in.

Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Her book Date Expectations is winner of the 2017 Independent Press Awards, Humor Category and winner of the 2016 IPPY silver medal for humor. Write to her at jeepgribbs@hotmail.com. Read more of her columns at www.zip06.com/shorelineliving.


Juliana Gribbins is the Columnist for Zip06. Email Juliana at .

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