In the spring of 1992, my parents' household became a residence for a new breed of beast: an adolescent girl. With age 13 looming just around the corner, the metamorphosis was drawing near, outcome uncertain and unavoidable. Decisions became purposeful and deliberate with the intent to ensure the ultimate level of coolness. All New Kids on the Block paraphernalia was stricken from my room, dreams of Jordan Knight to be replaced by doodlings and notes about REAL boys. Plastic hoop earrings got bigger. Hair got higher. Jeans got tighter. And, most importantly, the full potential of the telephone was realized. From the moment I walked in the door at 3:30 until I went to bed at 10:00, I was on it. The security blanket of teenage vitality. People trying to get through to other members of the household complained that the phone had been busy for weeks. They called while I was sleeping to accomplish a connection. Call waiting wasn't a luxury for my parents, it was a necessity. I was an addict. And then, it got worse. My friend Jessi got three way calling. It was all over. Even if one of us had to leave the phone for some inconceivable reason, there was still someone to talk to. Sometimes one of us would fall asleep...my dad would come into my room and gently untangle me from the phone cord, while muttering under his breath about the ridiculousness of it all. Eventually, the phone calls dissolved and developed into actual face-to-face contact with other human beings, limited by curfews and the availability of licensed drivers to take us to and pick us up from the mall. We never bought anything. We were gangs of pubescent loiterers, following people we found attractive, going out of our way to embarrass ourselves and others, buying one large soda to share between 6 people and praying that Todd Dinsmore would be thirsty and ask for a drink of it...Phone conversations got shorter and were abandoned for slumber parties at which we would do literally anything that came to mind, including many activities that stained carpets beyond repair with candlewax and Koolaid. This sort of thing went on well into college, Koolaid being replaced with cheap Merlot or whatever other alcohol was cool that week. On a whim, we'd decide to leave campus for a full 24 hours, which led to caffeine overdoses with documented scripts ("It's gray and it smells like cat urine." -Me, on the coffee at Embers on Hennepin at 4:16am).
And then it happened.
With the advent of the 20-something 9 to 5, something changed. We've become trapped in our homes like mice in cages. We don't know how to function without a plan, often made at least a week in advance. Our apartments function as panic rooms, and, once in them, it becomes difficult to leave on our own without a plan to execute. We're terrified of the phone: answering it up may subject us to sales pitches, surveys or sob stories about children all over the world who could benefit from our $.10 a day; we could call so-and-so, but what if it's too late what if they already have plans they probably have plans what if they're eating sleeping mating; we should clean cook something read do laundry organize the closet. We're trapped in a world of self-devised hypotheses that place phantasmic limitations on us. We rationalize our way into more responsibilities than actually exist in an effort to find or feel any semblance of meaning in our day to day lives, and then end up feeling lonely and watching reality television, listening to Dr. Phil tell us how to think common-sensically. We're notorious for "should" statements, but frozen by fears of rejection, inadequacy, failure...often with fabulous others who are feeling the same way within walking/biking/driving distance from our front doors.
We avoid the phone like an alcoholic avoids a bar. What would happen if we picked it up?