I was on the phone with my friend Jon earlier tonight, and we were discussing something truly mystifying: the age of beepers and pay phones. I can still picture the scene in the school cafeteria at lunchtime. Topic of the day: what color beeper would you get, if you had one? “Transparent blue!” “No! Transparent green!” To have that puppy locked and loaded on my purple Jordache belt loop would have been…a dream. But the reality set in – I’d still need quarters for the pay phone before leaving the house. And, most of those quarters would be put to use through the many prank calls that my best friend Michele and I would make at the movie theater. Nothing quite gave you the rush of success like the triumphant sound of hammering a phone back into the metal cradle of a pay phone littered with stickers. You were bad. You were real bad.
Back then, we were skilled mathematicians. We had all of our friends’ numbers memorized. And we knew the significance of what ‘143’ meant if someone paged it. Before those LOL’s and those IDK’s there were coded numbers, and lots of them. 823…1020? Here’s the 411 on Mr. Hall…
I didn’t get a cell phone until I could drive. It was a silver Nokia with a black antenna. It had a handful of polyphonic ringtones, and one game: Snake. And I’m fairly sure it had no clue what text messaging even meant. My mom had just parted ways with her flip phone. It was practically the size of a baby grand piano and the battery was even larger. And even before that, my dad’s car came equipped with a “car phone” in between the front seats. If this cues images of Anthony Michael Hall in a yellow button down, we’re on the same page.
I think the moral of the story is: appreciate what you have. Almost everything you need or want can be programmed into your cell phone today, specifically, the iphone. I mean, I have a lightsaber on my phone in case problems arise. I think I secretly get a little excited when I spot a lone pay phone, as long as it hasn’t been cursed for 27 years. It tells me that as far as we’ve come, there’s still reason to remember how we got to this point.