Trapped in a Cell Phone
of Our Own Making
I should introduce myself here at the outset, generally a sensible way to start. We Verbal’s always have been,
if a bit opinionated, also sensible. My name is William Verbal and I hail from Five Corners, Vermont, a small town
(Pop. 617) in the upper western section of the Green Mountain State. We’re far enough away from Stowe to not
be bothered by the skiing tourists, and far enough from Canada to not have to translate too much French. Five Corners itself doesn’t exactly fit with any established notion of what a Vermont town ought to be, and we like it that way.
My family were among state’s the original settlers, what with ‘great great great great great’ (possibly one more ‘great’ added) grandfather, Virgil Verbal having fought alongside Ethan Allen as one of the Green Mountain Boys. Virgil was reportedly a constant talker, so the Verbal tradition may have started with him. The family name, though, makes you wonder if it didn’t go back even further. Concerning Virgil, there’s a letter in existence in
which Ethan Allen mentions him, though not in the most flattering terms, it seems. Virgil apparently annoyed Ethan, largely with his constant questioning of why’s and wherefore’s as to the general logistics of the rebellion. Ethan was the type of man who tended to act first and think about it later. Most great men of history are.
History, in turn, doesn’t credit Ethan with the highest marks as a military strategist. As to Virgil’s strategic
ideas, well, they’re lost to the past. Which may be a good thing.
Back to the present. I certainly don’t claim greatness, but I do claim sensibleness, which I realize isn’t an actual word, but it is an actual asset in this increasingly jumbled world. ‘What the heck is going on here’ is a question
that is becoming difficult to answer, and if I can assist even slightly in that endeavor, well... I suppose that’s a small greatness, to coin an oxymoron. Let’s call it a small good thing, and hope I don’t get cited for literary theft.
Abigail – Abbey, my wife and one true love, likes to take her long, private-time baths in our clubfoot tub surrounded by candles. She does this one night a week, generally, and the candles she likes best come from
a small shop plunk in the middle of Stowe. So I, ever the dutiful husband, am sent on periodic trips south to
fetch these candles, which to me look pretty much the same as the fancier candles Earl Abbot sells in the
general store, but Abbey says no.
The last time I visited Stowe, as I made my way to the section of the shop where those much heralded tapers
lie, I was confronted by a strange and disconcerting sight – a father and daughter, skiing tourists, in the shop, shopping. Now, that sight by itself isn’t particularly disconcerting, but the fact that the Dad, 40’s-ish, and
the daughter, 10-ish, were standing in close proximity and both talking to other people who weren't there
was. Cell phones.
The one-sided dialogues went something like this –
Daughter – “Oh it’s soooooo cool you wouldn’t believe it we went on a lift and there were these awesome cute
boys snowboarding and we’re in a candle shop right now and it smells sooooooo good in here I'm going to ask
my Dad to buy me a candle that smells like popcorn, they have one here, I suh-wearrr, yep, swear, it’s true....”
Dad – “....up in Stowe, it’s beautiful, nice solid pack to the snow. Ah-huh. Just out with Bethany doing a little shopping, trying to wear her energy down... yeah, yeah... hah, hah, that’s right. Well, I’ll talk with you when
I get back about that thing we were discussing, yeah, the Richardson deal... ah hah, yup, talk to you then.”
As Bethany got her popcorn candle at the check-out she was still chatting non-stop to her little friend on the
other side of reality. Dad was left to pay then tag along silently, behind. Bethany still had much much more
to say. A sad sight, not very commonly seen in Five Corners, where we generally talk to the person who we’re with and not to someone who we aren’t. From my observation, it seemed like Dad and daughter could have
better spent their time talking to one another, but then, what do I know? I’m not a very good modern man.
One the way home, I rolled this sentence around my brain until it became exactly the way I wanted it to be,
which means, how it was meant to be. Here it is.
The cell phone allows people the opportunity of saying next to nothing, wherever they are, whenever they like.
When I got home, I recited it to Abbey and she said “That’s nice, dear.” She hears my little sayings too often,
I think, the novelty’s worn away. Abbey took the bag from me, checked to see if the candles were the right
ones, smiled her still-adorable smile, kissed my cheek and made it for the bathroom.
So I sat at my desk and wrote this down. The phone rang, but I didn’t answer it. I knew there was nothing
I really had to hear or say that couldn’t wait until some better time.
'Till we chat again...
P. S. Around town, I keep hearing folks talking about texting. Now, I'm not sure I want to know what it is,
but when I eventually find out, I'll let you know what I think.
Editor’s Note – William Verbal has never visited the offices of Muddy Water Magazine, or offered his picture
for us to reprint. Since Mr. Verbal doesn’t particularly trust the postal system’s efficiency in conveying the only copies of his hand-written writings, they're hand-delivered to us by courier, a personal friend of his from Five Corners. Our staff then takes the writings, re-types them while the courier waits, returns the manuscript to him, at which point he thanks us politely, always refusing to answer any questions about Mr.Verbal, and leaves.
Mr. Verbal doesn't own a computer, have email or give out his postal address. Anyone visiting Five Corners attempting to meet Mr. Verbal will discover that the townspeople are protective of Mr. Verbal's identity and
to a person, pretend they don't know who he is.