Everybody's talking at me

You'd think that kids' lemonade stands would have gone the way of Tom Sawyer, Penrod, and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. But there one was on our neighborhood's first warm day, complete with hand-lettered sign and 10-year-old with cash box.

What was wrong with this Norman Rockwell picture?

The cashier's same-size partner was talking on a cellphone. Perhaps only a refugee from pre-McDonald's America would even have noticed.

But the image keeps coming back to me. Who was on the other end of the line? A wholesaler? An agent? A publisher? Disney asking for rights to the movie and then the Broadway version? Larry King gently probing how the little girl explains her success? Charlie Rose pursuing exactly how she mixes her product and, incidentally, disclosing that he knows a thing or two about lemonade?

Was a baby boomer simply making absolutely sure he could get home delivery? Or was Mom saying she'd be right out with more ice?

"I'm just going around the corner on 53rd Street," said the voice over my shoulder in New York the other day. I turned – as I must train myself not to do. Even Robert De Niro would see no point in asking, "Are you talking to me?"

Nobody on the sidewalk is talking to me anymore. Everybody is talking to someone wireless.

When a walker right behind you exclaims, "I don't believe it!" it's hard not to be a little curious.

A giddy laugh for no apparent reason can also get one's attention.

Last Sunday at church, I heard a quiet voice nearby during silent prayer. It was not asking for Samuel. It was coming from a congregant with a cellphone.

The words weren't clear, but maybe she was saying, "I told you never to call me here."

Is it eavesdropping when no one cares if you're listening? "She said...." "I said...." "What was I supposed to do?"

One has to develop one's own codes for these things.

Fortunately, I was across the street and couldn't hear what the lemonade-stand girl was saying. Maybe it was anything to use up her free minutes. I've hardly come close with my own cellphone.

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