“Life Before Cell Phones” or “One-Way Love”

As I was sitting on a bench in the middle of Vienna the other night, frustrated about the fact that’s it’s impossible to get anyone to come out these days, and when they do, I’m always the last to know where everyone will be at, I fantasized about how life must have been better before cell phones.
Before I get to that, let me explain the whole background of my anger. Like I just mentioned, I am always the last to know what’s going on at night in Vienna. In fact, there’s a whole set of terminology that developed around my horrible situation:
“Orders”: My dad came up with this one. He’ll ask, “Haven’t you gotten your orders yet tonight?” when I’m sitting around at home, waiting for someone to call or IM me about the night’s happenings.
“Memo”: I believe I randomly adopted this term after having heard it in common use by friend from college, Greg Doyle. Nowadays I use it mostly in frustration when people are already at a party and they call me up, or (more often) I call them up. I’ll say, “I didn’t get the memo about that” (the party). In fact, nowadays I hardly ever get “the memo.”

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The destroyer of the planned-out evening

Anyway, back to the issue at hand: While I was enraged the other night on the bench, I decided to do a little stat checking. You can try this for fun too! Find the counters on your cell phone. They’ll usually be in a menu called something like “Call Timers.” You’ll probably see options for incoming and outgoing calls. Ready for the reality check? Compare the two! Here are my current stats:
Incoming: 1 hour, 52 minutes, 52 seconds
Outgoing: 1 hour, 59 minutes, 33 seconds
It doesn’t look too bad at first glance, right? But once you factor in that a ton of my incoming minutes were from my parents, as those conversations tend to be rather long, it becomes very disproportionate.
Anyway, back to life before cell phones: It’s strange to imagine how much different my high school years would have been if I would be just five years older. Everything would be planned ahead by at least an hour or two, probably much more. There would be no “we’re going downtown and then we’ll see”-ing going on, unless you already decided to meet at a meeting point before that and don’t plan to meet anyone else.
I’m not a big plan-ahead kind of guy. I don’t even have a planner–Neither the paper kind nor some computer program. I live every day for the day and every night for the night. But when you combine lack of planning with the lack of phone calls I receive from my friends, nightlife becomes very frustrating. And it’s not like no one has my number! It’s on this website at least three times, on business cards I’ve handed out, even in my MSN display name. So I really don’t know what’s going on. Maybe I’m just on everyone who is still in Vienna’s “B-List of Friends,” the guy they call when nobody from their “A-List” is out.
I fondly look back at the days when parties were planned weeks, or at least hours in advance–Those days when the night’s happenings were talked about over lunch in the school cafeteria. Nowadays I arrive downtown and have to make ten phone calls at ten-minute intervals just to get things going. My nightlife has turned to crap.

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