I do think mobile phones are changing how people relate to each other. But maybe it’s not such a bad thing.
Tonight a young couple parked in front of my house, no doubt intending some quality time at the wine bar across the street. They were both good-looking, both in their mid-20s, both smiling when they got out. Then the woman groped for her purse. She pulled out her phone to take a call.
I watched them, standing well back from the window as is my style. His smile faded as he stood in the street, watching her laugh at a remark he couldn’t hear. He waited a couple of minutes for eye contact or some sign that this would just take a second, but she was pretty deep into the conversation. Finally he shrugged and strolled away to the wine bar. She wasn’t looking his way when he disappeared inside. For a long time she walked back and forth in front of the Corolla, gesturing and smiling. At some point, I concluded that both of them had arrived at the wine bar with exactly the wrong person.
I could be wrong, of course. Watch a tableaux like that and you can imagine a million stories. Maybe they were newlyweds, maybe boyfriend and girlfriend. Hell, maybe brother and sister. Maybe it was a call from her best friend, who had not long to live. If so, she seemed to be taking it pretty well. Whatever the case, she stayed on the phone longer than I cared to stand and look. I had to put some pork chops on the grill.
Last time I checked, the Corolla was gone. I don’t know; maybe the relationship will last the night. But I’m not optimistic for the longer term. Clearly, the person on the phone was far more important than the person she was with. Without that phone call, the guy sitting alone in the wine bar might have taken quite a bit longer to figure it out.
Yeah, it’s a bit sad. But probably not as sad as two young and attractive people realizing their complete incompatibility only after they’re no longer young and attractive.
Mobile phones kind of make you choose. The one calling, or the one you’re with? A little choice, but little choices always add up to big ones. At least these days they add up a lot faster.