Reality Truck


At this point in the season, your standard woman has already bought and wrapped thoughtful gifts for 600 people, including her children, relatives, friends, co-workers, husband’s relatives, friends’ children....etc She has also bought several thoughtful gifts for nobody in particular, so she will not be in the horrifying position of receiving a gift from somebody for whom she does not have a retaliation gift. In contrast, your standard man has bought zero gifts. He has not even gotten around to buying an acceptable gift for his wife for last Christmas.
—Dave Barry

I expect I know what I’m getting for Christmas this year: a cellphone. Possibly several.

Even though mine stopped working properly quite some time ago, I refuse to get a new one, for several reasons. The people who try (in vain) to communicate with me are justifiably annoyed (and shopping), but my stubborn unwillingness to budge is based on principle.

First, I am pissed. At my current provider (whom we’ll call....Cingular).

When they merged with a larger outfit (whom we’ll call....AT&T) a while back, my text messaging stopped working.

I can still get messages. Sometimes.

And I can send them. Sometimes. But only about 18 to 22 characters at a time (there’s an arbitrary cutoff, and it changes every time, before flashing an annoying text that says “41 characters too long”… and then I have to edit. A lot).

So it now usually takes me at least seven messages to communicate one thought, and the abbreviations have gotten virtually indecipherable.


(The fact that I’ve had to resort to using Starbucks language—or rather, Strbux—infuriates me even more.) Worse, thanks to the escalating text messaging part of my bill (which is generally the only way I communicate at the office), I’m going to be reduced to selling plasma to pay it.

After numerous HOURS on the phone (which I’m sure I was billed for) with customer service, the consensus seems to be, I need a new phone.

By that, they mean I need to PURCHASE a new phone....and to do THAT, I need to sign a contract if I want to pay anything less than $18,000 for a new model.

The prospect of a new phone is bad enough. I like the one I have. I know where all the buttons are; it’s small and wizened and frayed and scrappy and scruffy (much like me). To say nothing of ornery and moody.

More importantly, I am too CHEAP to buy a new phone when the new one worked JUST fine till this “merger.”

All I’m sayin’ is, I didn’t merge with anybody (not in a looooooong time anyway). Therefore, I shouldn’t have to pay.

Also, I refuse to sign a contract.

Obviously, I have commitment issues.

The fact that I’ve already STAYED with this provider for more than five years (vastly exceeding the one-year commitment I was RAILROADED into the first time) should count for SOMEthing. Sure, I’ve talked to other providers. I’ve thought about what they have to offer. I think Verizon offered to buy me dinner AND wash my car. But I haven’t gone through with anything. By and large, I’ve been faithful. (I’m holding out for a ring from Sprint, to be honest.)

And finally, they don’t have any phones I WANT. In the United States.

I want a cool, credit card size phone like they have in Lost in Translation (which I realize is set in Japan, where the technology is better…but the subways are more crowded and the plumbing isn’t as good).

If I could get that one (which my coworkers insist is parodied in Zoolander, and they make fun of me for wanting a “model phone”…but I haven’t seen that movie), I’d even PAY for it. (Still wouldn’t sign a contract though.)

The truth is, I don’t want ANYTHING for Christmas, and what I mean by that, is I would really really like NOT to be disappointed.

Of course I will exchange a few excruciatingly thoughtful tokens of esteem (as always) with family, and with a select few longtime girlfriends dating back to college (we’ve all been shopping together 20 years).

That’s it. Otherwise, I’m boycotting. (I am breaking my fast to help one buddy shop for an engagement ring—but that’s just because even though I may not believe in the holidays, or for that matter, the institution of marriage, I do still believe in the institution of jewelry.)

My insignificant other has finally converted me to the dark side—where I no longer anticipate special occasions as anything beyond an opportunity to hurt the ones I love with indifference, neglect, or thoughtlessness.

I’d been coming around for a long time, but he sealed the deal on my birthday (which I never CONSIDERED spending with him—confident he’d screw it up), which he celebrated with…a book.

It wasn’t a bad book, mind you.

I liked it the first time. When he gave it to me THE FIRST TIME....for Valentine’s Day. So from now on, leave me out of the festivities.

If you’ll just get me a couple cans and some string, maybe I’ll at least call to wish you a Happy Holiday. Otherwise “MryXmas.” n