A whole new wave of cellphone communication

I am never the first in line to try out or buy new technologies. Case in point: I am the only person I know who has managed to survive on the planet this long without owning a cellphone. I live a simple, wire-free life in a mountainous village on a remote island in the Aegean.

This is why we moved here, to leave the city smog and the all-too-frantic pace behind us. Instead, we are surrounded by goats and cats. We made the right decision.

A couple of weeks ago on the beach, I came across a salmon-colored conch shell. It's a silly habit, but I hold a shell to my ear to see if I can hear the waves crashing. I never do, of course, but I repeat the exercise endlessly. I don't know why the thought hit me, but suddenly it occurred to me this shell was about the size of a first-generation cellphone. I decided to keep it.

Ever since I brought it home, I've been amusing myself by "dialing" it and waiting for it to ring. Amazing, this modern technology! I have dubbed it my shell phone and am quite taken with it.

I figured it was time to test it out in the real world, minute as my "real world" is. I took it with me one day when we went out for lunch. As busy workers dining at the other tables reached for their cellphones to check in with their bosses about this or that, I made my move. I held my shell phone to my ear and spoke briefly. I am a woman of few words.

I watched for reactions, but nobody seemed the least bit concerned. On his way out, one diner complimented me on my unusual model. "Oh, it's the latest in the Omega-22-Alpha series," I smiled. "I bought it at the big electronics trade fair."

I had to laugh at my own joke: I haven't been off my little Greek island for two years. I have completely forgotten what the interior of a bookstore or a movie theater looks like. I live 28 sea-hours from Athens, truly in the middle of nowhere.

The diner nodded, still taking me seriously. Perhaps he felt a bit embarrassed that he hadn't attended the trade fair. After all, nobody wants to admit being out of the loop about the latest trends, electronic or otherwise.

I don't always carry it with me, but now I at least own a modern shell phone and am semi-connected to the rest of the planet. Of course, I won't hand out my number to just anybody. The last thing I want is a bunch of telemarketers finding me and interrupting my dinner to ask if I want to invest in time shares on a Greek island.

I realize it was a bargain, but at the moment, I am having a bizarre bit of a technical difficulty with my wireless wonder. It may be my imagination, but whenever I pick up my phone, I distinctly hear the sea.

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