April 23rd, 2010
Recently, “Dateline” was doing a piece on why it’s particularly annoying, noticeable and intrusive to listen to people talking on their cell phones. This was fascinating to me for a couple of reasons. First, I generally expect “Dateline” to do weekly pieces investigating (via black light) hotel rooms covered in semen. Secondly, regarding our topic at hand, the reporter exposed that being forced to overhear only one side of a phone call is bothersome because our human physiology is not designed to listen to half a conversation. Our species is wired to fill in the blanks.
Sadly, we are left to connect the dots on our own. One remedy could be combining multiple one-sided cell phone conversations so we aren’t left with dead air. Although the script might be deficient in fluidity, the scenario could alleviate the unsettling reaction we have upon hearing unbalanced dialogue.
Let’s imagine, if you will, that we’re on the Metro North train. New Haven line.
We are surrounded by 3 commuters who are all on their cell phones:
1) Behind us sits WALK OF SHAME GIRL – She’s in her mid 20’s and took the train out to New Haven the night before for a first date. Met on Match.com. Talking to her best friend, Katelyn.
2) In front of us is JADED MIDDLE AGED EXECUTIVE DAD. Big house in suburbs. Impressive W-2’s. Dead inside. Talking to his therapist
3) Next to us is FLAMBOYANT TEENAGE BOY. On his way to school. Senior at The School of Performing Arts. Fame! Talking to his mother.
(On an early morning train to Manhattan. All on phone)
Walk of Shame Girl - Heading back to the city from New Haven. Yep. Went out with him last night. First date. Met him on Match.com. No, I didn’t think it was weird that he asked me to go out there.He's really busy.
Jaded Middle Aged Executive Dad – Well...let’s see. I haven’t had sex in 8 ½ months. My wife doesn’t feel good about her extra forty pounds. And I don’t either.
Flamboyant Teenage Boy – Hey mom…can you Tivo “Glee”? My girlfriend Tonya and I love to watch it.
Walk of Shame Girl - He works at Yale. No, not a grad student. Head of the janitorial department. Stop judging Katelyn. He’s the manager!
Jaded Middle Aged Executive Dad – Who’s my best friend? Probably my Solaire 56 Inch Infravection Electric Grill. 2 side burners
Flamboyant Teenage Boy – Yes mom…things with Tonya are fabulous. We’re in love. She just got a mullet, bought a truck and got into Wesleyan .
Walk of Shame Girl - Yeah, went to dinner. I paid. Yes Katelyn. I slept with him. On the first date. That’s OK. Right? When I left, he said, "See ya around." I’m itchy.
Jaded Middle Aged Executive Dad – The kids are OK. Timmy’s teacher thinks he has ADHD. But he’s really just an asshole.
Flamboyant Teenage Boy - (Nervously uncomfortable) No mom, I didn’t try on your formal wear. By the way, I’m staying in the city tonight. With my friend Françoise. I told you. We were in the senior class production of “Hairspray” together. If we both get into Julliard, we’d like to be roommates…we just have a… connection.