My daughter is keenly interested in phones, perhaps because at the age of 8 she doesn’t yet own one but sees them in most everyone’s hands.
So it wasn’t surprising when she asked me not too long ago, “What kind of phone did you have when you were a kid?”
The kind that hung on the wall in the kitchen or sat on a desk in my parents’ room, I said.
This was, judging from her blank look, like speaking to her in Mandarin.
There were no cellphones back then, honey, I explained. Just phones in the house, plugged to an outlet, with cords that got tangled up easily.
But I don’t think she really got it because more recently she asked me if I texted a lot when I was a kid.
Nope, I said. I never texted because there were no cellphones on which to text important messages like “hey” to ones friends.
“What?!” she said.
To explain, I pulled up photos of rotary phones on Google.
“Those are lame phones,” she said.
Then she wanted to know who invented the phone and, reflexively, I said, “Alexander Graham Bell.”
“No, no,” she said, picking up her brother’s phone off the kitchen counter, “this phone.”
I didn’t know. So we looked it up. Martin Cooper back in the 1970s. We both learned something, which I thought wasn’t lame at all.
But I’m not sure she really gets how it was in those pre-cellphone days, when the only way you’d know if a friend called while you were out was if your brother bothered to take a message. And, talk about lame, he didn’t always bother.
By LESLIE POSTAL