My husband just came back from town, where he pre-ordered each of us an iPhone 5—emphasis on the number five, since neither one of us has owned, let alone touched models one through four. Lagging behind by four stages of technology equates to time traveling from the year 1812 to the year 2012 to find oneself seated in the pilot’s chair at the control panel of a 747 cockpit—for me. He, on the other hand, is gifted. He can pick up an electronic device and intuitively understand it.
It’s not as if I’ve had much opportunity to warm up to the latest level. Five years ago we moved from San Juan Capistrano, California to the thriving metropolis of Huson, Montana, a town that boasts of Larry’s Six-Mile Bar and Café and the post office window in a victim-of-the-economy closed mercantile building. Soon after we’d driven for the first time five miles further up the dirt road to our log cabin in the woods I asked a neighbor why so many cars always pull off in the same spot, five miles back, around the bend from Larry’s.
“It’s the last best cell phone reception!” she told me.
Some folks consider it a major inconvenience, but we, in fact, glory in the freedom that our plain old ordinary cell phones won’t work while we’re lying in the summer hammock or snowshoeing through the winter forest.
We both bit the apple: Two years ago I got a MacBook (whose most elementary functions are the ones I use), and Brad began fiddling away in the cloud of his iPad. But then, like Snow White, we fell into a sleepy coma, oblivious as the flurry of phone models passed us by.
A few months ago, Brad was awakened while towing our 5th wheel on a wildlife photography trip with his son, who promptly accessed information like a CIA agent. He came home smitten with Siri, who had not only informed him of the whereabouts of spare RV parts and camera equipment, but—the most vital nubbin of information since we have none in Montana—the nearest location of Carl’s Jr. After years of blissful ignorance in reclusive retreat, he now has one foot in the air and the other securely on the bandwagon.
“When we travel, we can access directions and have information at our fingertips,” he says calmly, when what he means is I’ll know where to find a bacon cheeseburger.
This is true, except I don’t fly, so hardly ever travel other than the occasional road trip when I don’t partake of pre-formed meat patties. Besides, if I’m looking for a plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, I prefer asking for directions, but then, I am a woman. I enjoy the face-to-face interaction, the live chat as opposed to the cyber. When we recently strolled toward the exit doors of the lobby of a Seattle hotel and Brad said “If I had an iPhone I would know where to find the nearest Starbuck’s,” I fought against my primitive instinct to simply query the concierge. Of course, the man probably would have looked it up on his iPhone. Once Brad opened the door to the street, I couldn’t exactly see the need for emergency electronica.
There was one on every corner.
“Why do I need this phone?” I ask him.
“For one thing, it has 4G LTE!” he persuades.
Okay, I recognize that this is like saying What’s a toaster? but what, exactly is 4G LTE? Is that the one in the commercial with the cute girl wearing the polka dot dress, who looks like Anne Hathaway? I think it relates to network and speed, but when you live in a town where the driver of a pickup stops in the middle of the two-lane road to shoot the breeze with his buddy driving the pickup in the opposing lane of traffic, and no one backed up behind either one of them even honks but just lazily waits until their conversation is over, why would you require hyper-pace on your phone… while pulling over to the last best only place for reception?
“You can learn to use the apps!” Brad tries hard to trust that I actually am capable of extending my working knowledge of technology, I with the high-tech learning curve of a turtle. It took me five years to learn how to text and take a photo with the prehistoric phone I have. At this rate, I’ll be hunting and pecking on the iPhone 5 keyboard from the Memory Care Unit “WHO AM I?” and sending it to anyone whose number I manage to save between now and then.
“You’ll eventually like all the bells and whistles.”
Even the man who loves me uses the word eventually. He realizes success is predicated on the notion that I can figure out how to download bells before Apple unveils the iPhone 10. If the whistles are voice-activated, Siri had better be acquainted with vocalization akin to a shriek.
Truth told, what really frightens me is that I will lose the muscle memory I’ve achieved after eons of time spent hovering over my current phone—that is not smart. I know that sounds “old” so I am telling myself to challenge my gray matter—the stuff under the hair—to learn this new skill that everyone on planet Earth has long ago mastered while driving and putting on make-up and drinking coffee. I will leap four levels and achieve the ability to skype from dressing rooms like my daughters do. “Does this look cute? Does it make my butt look tight?”
Except, in my case, at 60+ years old, I already know the answers to those questions, and since I have to drive 25 miles to get to Missoula, the big small town that has only one of everything, I’d be at the end of the street that houses it all before the lightning-fast 5 version could tell me where to turn to buy a hunting rifle.
“It’s less expensive to get the iPhone for you, too, and have both of us on the same plan than it is for you to keep your current phone and be on a separate plan,” my thrifty husband offers as an unarguable consideration. On this note, I surrender.
I can—and will—skype my daughters in New York and Scottsdale from Sportsman Warehouse’s dressing room… clad in a camo bikini.
Kathleen Clary Miller is an author of over 300 published essays who lives in the Ninemile Valley in the woods of Western Montana. She cannot be reached on her cell phone.