Thin Intelligent Killers
I was waiting for my best friend, Clare, to arrive. The table was set, the dinner ready and smelling good, music was on, and a film had been picked. The only thing missing was the person responsible for all this fuss. We hadn’t seen each other for a while, so this was meant to be a huge “catch-up” night.
Finally, a few minutes later, there was a knock on the door. I opened it with a dramatic swing and the moment we looked at each other we started squeaking like little girls. I gave her a hug and then we both burst out laughing at our silly behaviour.
Clare was wearing a creamy blazer, a red top, a pair of blue jeans and casual trainers. Her handbag was dangling from her arm and in her hand she was clutching a phone. Her dark hair was falling loosely on her shoulders, her brown eyes were gleaming and a wide smile was settled on her face.
“Hi!” she sighed realising, just as I did, that too much time had passed since we last saw each other.
“Come in,” I invited her, holding the door open.
“So good to see you!” she said when I took her blazer to put it on a hanger. She put her phone in her pocket, took off her trainers, left her handbag in the hall, and followed me to the kitchen.
“How’s the weather?” I asked, stirring the soup.
“Oh, wait. I’ll look it up,” Clare answered and reached into her pocket to retrieve her phone. I tittered and shook my head in disbelief when I saw she was serious.
“You’ve just been there…” I remarked.
“Erhm, yeah, right,” she waved her hand. “It’s getting quite cold.”
“Well, fine…” I turned back to the cooker and poured the soup into our plates. I placed them on the table and barked: “Dinner’s served, bitches!” But her eyes were fixed on the phone screen and she missed the whole Swedish-Meal-Time joke…
“What was that?” she looked up after a while.
“Oh, nothing. Let’s eat,” I forced a smile.
Dinner went fine, we reminisced about the old times and updated each other on latest news. Every now and then, however, her phone beeped quietly. She would say it was her boyfriend, texting her.
“Why don’t you call him?” I suggested.
“Oh, no, it’s not necessary… we are just chatting, you know.”
“Fine. Sorry for interrupting,” I snapped, trying to restrain myself.
I am really getting more and more annoyed by these nasty little things. Everyone seems to be captivated by them. So dependent on them. But what is it about them anyway? You can even chat while sitting on the toilet, now that’s what I call advanced technology! I just don’t get it. I don’t know. “Am I too old for this?” I often ask myself despite being a member of the “young fast-living generation”.
I thought my old phone must be a laughing stock for having more than a dozen buttons. Way too many… We were talking face to face, but somehow she wasn’t there with me, she didn’t pick up the different shades of my voice, the gags… Neither did the conversation we were having seem to be efficient or worthwhile in any way.
She was on her phone again. It seemed her fingers were glued to it and her eyes attached to it with invisible strings. I tried to ignore it. I asked her a question. Silence fell.
“Erhm, sorry?” she looked up and put the phone in her lap.
“Are you listening at all?” I shook my head. “Or you know what? Don’t bother.”
“Hey, what’s up? Of course I’m listening. I just misheard your question. That’s all. You’re talking about…your job,” she smiled, obviously pleased with the fact that she could manage everything.
Clare scowled and put her phone aside.
“Hey, what’s wrong? You don’t need to make a scene just because I didn’t hear one question… Seriously, this can’t be about the phone. It’s just…a phone.”
I sighed. “No. It’s not just about the phone. It’s like it’s become a new dimension you live in or something. As if the earth would stop turning unless you grabbed it the second it made a sound. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind you texting whoever you like or making a call, but this,” I pointed at her smartphone, ”is just too much.”
We were both silent for a while, the meaning of my words sinking in. Clare stared at the ground and bit her lip. When she spoke up, I knew she meant it.
“You’re right. I…I’m sorry,” she reached out and squeezed my hand. Just when the corners of my lips began to curl into a smile, Clare’s phone beeped again. The sound flushed my smile away before it even settled on my face. I stood up and took our empty plates to the kitchen sink. Then she came up to me, holding her phone in her hand.
“See, I switched it off.” She pressed each button (there were only two) and tapped the screen to prove it.
“Can we start the evening all over?” she smiled, blushing like an embarrassed school girl.
“No,” I said firmly.
Her complexion turned from red to while and I knew her heart sank.
“We’ve already finished our dinner,” I stated and shrugged matter-of-factly. “There’s only popcorn left.”
She looked at me gobsmacked and I wasn’t sure whether she would hit me or hug me.
“Popcorn would be perfect!” she said instead and we both laughed.
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