‘Reflections on the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.’
Honest Injun. I was going to write a piece about iPhones and ringtones anyway. But as I was reading the Times (er, procrastinating) with my zillionth cup of coffee, I happened upon the news that the iPhone came out ten years ago today.
My my my. It seems like just yesterday that I was sharing a (very tiny, so it’s a good thing we got along) freelance office with an art director I dubbed Svenska Boy, who was the very first person of my acquaintance who had an iPhone. He waited hours in line outside the Apple Store in Midtown Manhattan to get it. Sigh. Technological memories are so bittersweet.
Take that early selfie at the top of this post. Please (!) It’s not only fuzzy, it’s taken in a mirror. Because the phones back then didn’t have that reverse camera. Or maybe I just hadn’t realized it was there. Oh well.
But back to the reason I was going to write about phones in the first place. It has to do with sounds. I was at the Amagansett IGA a few days ago, stocking up for my umpteenth wave of weekend house guests, when I spied a woman who used to date one of The Dude’s cousins. (Hey, I’m alone all week. When I run into someone I know, even vaguely, they simply must be prepared for a bit of social interaction.)
I approach this woman, gaily waving, when I realize she doesn’t know me from Adam. But when I hail her by name, she responds “Oh! It’s you!” And then she calls me by my name (which is not actually ‘Lutheranliar’) and says “Of course it’s you. I’d know that voice anywhere.”
Hmmmm. Two things are a tad disconcerting here. 1. Has my physical appearance changed that much in thirty years? And 2. Has my Midwestern accent not changed that much in thirty years?
Well, Sally (not her real name) and I engaged in some awkward conversational byplay, bid each other adieu, and I went on home to whip up bean salad, put out fresh beach towels and make myself a stiff G&T. I forgot all about this whole matter of ID-ing people by sound until my house filled up the next day with people and phones.
For surely you, and not just the Apple People, must realize that no one goes anywhere these days without his or her phone. (Just try sitting pingless or beepless or itsy-bitsy-lights-going-off-less through play or movie or concert.) So several guests meant several phones, all emitting (mostly) different ringtones. So Cousin A could say “No, that’s not mine” if a ‘marimba band’ started marimba-ing. And Cousin B could go “that’s probably my daughter” when we heard a ‘doorbell’. (Things did get a bit cacophonously complicated when one cousin’s daughter’s baby monitor started bleeping and her dad tried to answer it.)
Like a lot of Apple fans, I not only have a basic ringtone I recognize as ‘mine’ (‘Old Phone’), I’ve assigned tones to all my near and dear. I don’t even have to glance at my screen to know it’s Mom calling (‘Classic’, because that’s what she is). Or my Favorite Sister (‘Bark’, because she loved her dachshund).
And of course I know when The Dude is on the phone. Because his ring is ‘Motorcycle’. Which is sort of a dumb joke, because his motorcycle actually makes no sound at all.
Which brings me to a tone-related story. When The Dude isn’t riding his soundless motorcycle, he likes to ride his equally quiet bicycle. He goes on long rides — I mean really long. His ‘usual’ Sunday ride can be anywhere from 30 to 60 miles. And last year he and The Child participated in a ‘century’, which is (of course) a 100-miler.
These rides can last for hours and of course Things Can Happen. Like flat tires and spinouts and spills due to cracks in the pavement and whatnot. (A cat was once the ‘whatnot’, but I am so not going there today.) I am often called to the rescue when these things happen. I hop in the hatchback and go gather up the injured, whether it’s a bike or its rider, or both.
One fall day I got back from a non-phone-accompanied walk and see that I have a message. It’s The Dude, saying “I got a flat on my way back from Montauk. Can you pick me up? Call me so I know you got this message.” I call, get no answer, and leave him a message: “I’m on my way!” (I think it’s a little weird that he’s not answering, seeing as how he told me to call when I was on my way, so I keep trying every few minutes or so. Still no answer.)
Well. I finally spot him, anxiously pacing by the roadside. He’s so mad there’s practically smoke coming out his ears. “Why didn’t you call me? I told you to call me!”
“I did call you. A bunch of times. You didn’t answer! I left you tons of messages. Check your phone and you’ll see!”
“Oh.” He looks at me, suddenly sheepish. “I kept hearing crickets. And I thought it was just, um, crickets.”
Needless to say, he changed my ringtone. I’m no longer ‘Crickets’, but I haven’t had the nerve to ask what my new tone is. Maybe ‘Boing’?
Amagansett, New York. September 2017