Next week we recognize what might just be the most revolutionary invention of all time, at least for Z-Gens or Millennials, for without it there would be a whole generation that would have to find something else to do instead of looking at their phones every 30 seconds. It was on March 7, 1876, that a 29-year-old Scottish immigrant named Alexander Graham Bell filed his patent for the telephone. Or “acoustic telegraph,” as it was so quaintly referred to.
The funny thing is, Bell himself wouldn’t have one in his house, calling it “annoying.”
We’ve certainly come a long way since the days when people had to crank it up like a Model T Ford to get it to work. I only know about that from watching old movies, but I have been around long enough to remember having to wait for the person on our party line to hang up before I could use the telephone. To keep things organized, there would be a line of operators working switchboards who would ask “number puh-leeze” as soon as you picked up that heavy black receiver, and they were also the ones that would break into your conversation saying the person on your party line had to make an important call and could you please hang up.
Not unlike Sarah on The Andy Griffith Show or Lily Tomlin on Laugh-In, the switchboard operators were the ones who knew all the gossip in town.
We’ve got none of that today. You don’t even call them telephones anymore; you have to say either “landline” or “cell.”
I can appreciate the difference between the two. First, the benefit of a landline is … hmm … well, you don’t have to worry about keeping it charged. More importantly, the phone can’t be stolen or misplaced. Hey, it’s wired to the wall!
On the other hand, a benefit of cell phones is that we keep our communication device with us at all times for important messages, and for emergencies like if I’m at the store and have forgotten if she wanted pulp-free or extra pulp orange juice.
Someone once said the telephone is the greatest nuisance among conveniences and the greatest convenience among nuisances.
I think I’m starting to babble.
But it’s all good. March means spring is heading our way. Besides being the month of Caesar’s Ides, St. Patrick’s Day, and Spring Breaks for all, there’s also something called March Madness, a basketball thing, when even people who don’t follow the sport very closely will try to win money by filling out brackets in an office pool or something. But that’s not for me, no. If I wanted some free cash, I’d just go down to John Brooks and get myself a Roadrunner ticket. Funny thing, though, dreams of that big sack of money seem to evaporate after matching only one number.
One more thing. My birthdate happens to be in the month of March and under the astrological sign of Aries. Aries was named after Ares, the Greek god of war and the son of Zeus and Hera. Zeus became the god of all the gods by a random drawing with his brothers – not unlike holding the winning lottery ticket. And Hera was called the Queen of the Gods on Mt. Olympus and, as fate would have it, she was also the sister of her husband Zeus.
Sound familiar? I’m getting the feeling that all TV soap operas sprang from Greek mythology.
Where was I? Oh yes, when it comes to celebrating birthdays, after age 39 I frankly started losing track of the “how old are you” thing. Age, the way I look at it, is just a social construct, or as Mark Twain once said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. So, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
This reminds me of something I saw while on the internet about adopting new categories for age groups. I’m not sure who came up with them, but try this on for size: Youth goes to age 65. Middle age is 65-75. Old age is 75 and over.
Sounds reasonable to me, although it must be noted that maturity was not even mentioned in that article. As Mae West says, “You are never too old to become younger!”
When you get down to it, your chronological age is kind of irrelevant depending on your priorities, but I will admit that it’s been many a year since I’ve been told to tuck my shirt in, stand up straight, pick up my feet, turn down that record player, or do my homework. Or having to wait until Saturday morning to watch cartoons.
Now I’m all grown up and know stuff.
But honestly, I can’t remember how I reheated coffee before microwaves.