Happy Birthday to my Selfie


‘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.

Selfies before iPhones. I take a picture of my reflection with a thing called a camera. Actually it was a Flip Video Camera. Remember those?

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.)

A gaggle of cousins admires The Dude’s (very large, very up-to-date) phone

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).

No technological grass growing on my Mom. She can phone and text and emoji, all while petting a cat

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.

The Dude on his Zero. Which is an electric motorcycle. It has a really really long cord (kidding) and makes no sound (not kidding)

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.

If it quacks like a duck, it’s The Child, ring-tone-dubbed thusly because she sounded just like one when she was little. Here she is, with The Dude, after last fall’s Century

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


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36 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to my Selfie

  1. collegeceliackc

    That cricket story is PRICELESS! My mom has my sister’s ringtone set to “duck,” so we sometimes are very confused to hear whacking out of no where!

  2. Too funny! I can’t say I would like being labeled with the “Crickets” ringtone, but that is funny! I do love my iPhone, however, I never plan on upgrading until my current phone stops working completely! But I understand that people love their new toys (even when Apple only changes minimal things)! I have yet to customize ringtones for my loved ones!

    • Thanks for the comment, New Floridian! I must admit that I didn’t find beng associated with crickets very flattering. Tho I guess it’s better than ‘Old Phone’ (!) You should give tones-assigned-to-loved-ones a try; super fun matching tones to person. Heheheh (!)

  3. Every time I think of when iPhones first came out, I think about that girl’s video or post on Facebook showing her novel of a bill from AT&T! That made me wait a minute before I jumped on the bandwagon! Now, I’m a hardcore Apple addict!

  4. I am allergic to ‘I’ anything after being issued an i pad for work five years later and I still dislike them. On entering my house for a scheduled get together, dinner or some party I expectvphones to be on silent unless an emergency. A look at a vibrating screen is all i’d expect.

  5. Lol I used to have my grandparents set to a whistling tone because it sounded old time. One day they called me while I was driving and I thought whistling was an odd choice to mix into the hip hop song on the radio ? it’s funny too because when I went to visit them they had the same ringtone set for their cell phones lol

  6. The crickets here are so loud in the evening and morning I could never use that ringtone. I would just assume they were up to their typical nonsense again. I, too, am a fan of the selfie, much to the chagrin of my daughter. Now I like them even more because I know I can get a rise out of her.

    • Hahahaha! Daughters HATE it when we get into their stuff — even their social media stuff. It drives mine crazy when I text her. Especially if I use texting jargon. Like LMAO. Which, like, totally makes me LMAO. As for the crickets, I agree. This time of year they are really really loud. Maybe Apple needs to offer a snake hiss ringtone. Now THAT I would hear (!)

  7. Ah, phones. I am still learning how to use one. We were holdouts and kept one in the glove compartment for emergencies. Well, you actually have to know how to use one in an emergency. My son gave me one of his old phones which he said is a relic and should be in a museum. I will have to upgrade someday. My phone. Not my son. Love you, Alice!

  8. I’ve taken selfies standing in front of the mirror so I get the front and back of me which is way too much of me for any photo I realized upon review. I was a hold out for the iPhone until a few years ago when I converted from android to apple and now I’m apple all the way – tablet, computer and phone. I don’t have any special ring tones though – just the standard. Funny about the crickets!

  9. Loving your old school selfies! I’m of the early MySpace era and used to take them with my camera, looking up and away like I was annoyed with the world.

    No longer do I take selfies in mirrors with actual cameras though, nor do I make those faces. Change can be good!

    Also, I’m so boring: I only have one ringtone. Must update for my favorite humans!

    • So glad I’m not the only one who used to ‘shoot myself’ in the mirror. Somebody could get hurt! And yes, some change can be good. Though whether it’s a good thing that we can now easoily take selfies is a debatable issue for sure. Oh, before I go — you are so not boring, one ringtone or no!

  10. josypheen

    I love this! Silly dude. 🙂

    I used to use the crickets as a wake up call (it’s a better sound than a beep!) Plus, my cat hears it and jumps on my face…which is a better alarm than my actual alarm!!

      • josypheen

        Omg, that would be pretty funny to see. Phone-robots jumping at people’s faces! I have a feeling most people would HATE phones that tried that!!

        My mum is terrified of mobile phones (I never really understood why!) so I recorded my voice to say “hello hello, pick up the phone mother” as a ring tone. Now she is slightly better at picking up…

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