Jon de Vos – The sounds of silence
September 10, 2009
It was a hot day and I was lost in the maze of a giant mall. Well, technically I’m not really lost, actually I’m in tow. My wife is shopping, a puma in pursuit of a pair of Pumas. There she is, just ahead of me, parting the crowd like a South African sprinter. I looked wistfully over my shoulder at the Haagen-Dazs concession as it receded in the distance behind me. I vowed at that moment that if I ever passed this way again, I would lay down my wife’s bags and manfully order a raspberry sorbet.
She’s been on the prowl for some time, loping from store to store with the ease and fluidity of a gazelle. My own feeling, had someone cared to ask, was that it was growing bothersome to remain upright. Then suddenly, it happened. She disappeared from sight. Either I’d passed her when she’d slipped into a store, or I’d lagged so far behind that she’d abandoned me like a truculent mule. Neither mattered, I was free as a bird. I fled in search of my sorbet, wondering idly if blackberry wouldn’t better suit my mood. Where, oh where, is that ice cream store?
There, at that Verizon kiosk, there’s an intelligent-looking fellow, I’ll ask him, “Uh, excuse me, would you know where can I get a blackberry … he interrupted me with an enthusiastic, “You’ve come to the right place!” and triumphantly held aloft what appeared to be Barby’s laptop.
“Uh, no,” I said, “I was just looking for …”
“Well, look no further,” he exclaimed, “this baby is loaded with features and comes in 14 exciting colors. This month only, with the activation of your new account, we’ll give you this Corinthian leather carrying case for half price. Hand over your phone.”
“I … I was only looking for ice cream,” I said, slightly bewildered, “why do you want my phone?”
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“Ice cream, you say?” he said, tapping furiously on Barby’s laptop, then handing it to me, “Here you go, turn by turn directions to all 687 ice cream stores in Denver. Why don’t you go to that one across the food court and by the time you get back I’ll have your net worth assessed to see if you can afford this baby.”
“Uh, what is it?” I asked.
“The future,” he replied, “hand me your phone.” I did so and went off in search of sorbet. When I got back, my newfound friend explained that they’d run into a few snags but if I just wanted to take a seat, it should only be a few more minutes.
Time passed. Remember in the movie “Dark City” where at the stroke of midnight all the townspeople fell asleep and the aliens had their way with them? I didn’t make it til midnight but suddenly my wife was standing in front of me, demanding, “Where have you been?”
“I was looking for ice cream but I guess I’m getting a new phone. Or something,” I explained.
“It’s almost dark,” she said, “I’ve been looking for you for two hours. Why didn’t you answer when I called?”
“I … I don’t have a phone anymore. I gave it to that guy over there.”
She stared at me for a moment before suggesting I march over there and get it right back. When I did, my new friend told me that they were having trouble in the system, but if I wanted to take my old phone and my new phone, it would take about an hour for the changes to “push through”.
“Push through?” I said.
“Yeah,” he said, “that’s a technical term that means I go home in 45 minutes.”
Four days later and I’m quietly sobbing into my dead dollhouse laptop, saying over and over, “You still can’t hear me now, can you?”
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