Sunday, September 19, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

If you have a cell phone, fuck you. I have one and fuck me, too.

As long as they have existed to annoy me, I have had this intense, almost irrational hatred of mobile phones. For years, I gave all my friends shit about being enslaved to their little plastic pieces of shit, because they were constantly talking or texting to the point of it screwing up our time together. They were too distracted to pay attention to our real life conversations thanks to their attention-sucking toys. You can see the same shit happening in bars everywhere. There will be people at tables full of people not talking to anyone because they’re texting away like a bunch of monkeys with typewriters.

But recently I betrayed my noble, decade plus anti-cell phone cause. I sold out. Not only did I break down and get a cell phone, I have been text messaging so much that I’m fighting a constant ongoing battle with my inbox to keep the messages deleted so that yet more can come to distract me.

By the way, who is the genius that had the idea to limit most phones to only a couple of hundred incoming and outgoing texts saved anyway? Fire that stupid asshole immediately.

It’s ironical that I have become the phone-using cliché I always railed against. It fills me with intense self-loathing every time I text and have to press the 7 button four times just to get a damn “s”. But I have to be honest and admit that texting beats talking. I can’t hear on my piece of shit phone anyway and I’ve always been better at writing than talking. Still, the slowness of the process is totally fucking annoying. Stuff I can type in like half a second, takes at least a minute or ten.

Yet I keep doing it.

Until the big Paducah Ice Storm in ‘09, I’d never even owned a cell phone. I was one of the lone holdouts and I raged against mobile technology every chance I got. I hated cell phones with every single atom of my blackened and embittered heart. Then a stupid ice-covered limb knocked out my land line and I needed a phone that worked because I had to go out of town for my job. I’d been thinking about getting a cell for road trips or emergency situations, like my motorcycle or car breaking down in the middle of nowhere. My initial plan was to barely ever use it.

When I got my phone I made sure to get one that didn’t have a keyboard.

“I’ll never text,” I swore. “Fuck texting and everyone who texts! I will only use my phone for emergencies! Fuck cell phones and the horse they rode in on!”

And, for about a year and four months, I did exactly that. I barely made any calls and the only time I texted anyone was my friend Sean in Brookport who had such shitty mobile reception that the only way you could get through was to text him. If he tried to answer, he would just lose the signal so text messages were the only way to reach him. I sent maybe ten total texts in that time period and I used the phone to talk only on the rarest of occasions.

And then I fell off the wagon completely.

A couple of weeks ago, while on my vacation, I was getting texts from several different women because I’m newly single after a two year serious relationship and, apparently, that’s how the ladies like to communicate these days. I was getting a few from some guy friends, too. So I thought, what’s the worst thing that can happen? An extra ten dollars on my cell phone bill? I’ll just start answering some texts with texts and everything will be fine.

In the past when I’d gotten a text message, I had always either called the person sending it or ignored them completely or yelled at them for texting me.

I texted everyone back and then it just completely snowballed. It created a monster. In a matter of mere days, I had nearly 100 dollars worth of fucking texts on my bill with more coming in all the time and more going out because I wasn’t going to not respond. I was looking at, quite possibly, a 500 dollar cell phone bill for one month.

If cell phones were sex, I went from being a virgin to a burnt-out old porn star in a matter of days.

And the scary, awful truth of it all is this: I found out that I actually like texting. Not the actual process of texting itself, that’s where all the self-loathing comes from, but I like reading them and I like writing them. I like coming up with funny text messages in my head. I’m a writer and now there’s a way I can interactively write every waking moment of my life no matter where I am.

One thing I do differently than almost everyone else I know is I use nigh perfect spelling and grammar in all my text messages. I capitalize and punctuate. I’m trying to start a revolution in texting where no one uses shit like LOL or TTYL or U for YOU or 2 for TO. All the extra button pushing is probably unnecessary, but it looks better, it’s easier to read, and I’m a pedantic asshole. You should do it too. Someone has to save the English language.

If the me of three years ago saw the me of today, I’m pretty sure he’d just go ahead and commit suicide in shame and disgust, but the me of today is way fucking cooler, smarter, and sexier than the me of three years ago, so fuck that uptight Luddite asshole.

And just because I have unlimited texting, doesn’t mean I love cell phones. I haven’t completely sold out. They’re just a means to an end and I still hold a special hate for other people’s phones and in the right set and setting I downright fucking loathe them. I saw Iron Man 2 with this self-absorbed redheaded chick that dated me for about five minutes and, when she saw the on-screen warning telling people to not use their mobile phones to talk or text once the movie started, she asked me, “Why does it say no texting? They don’t make any noise. They won’t bother anyone.”

Thirty minutes later, I could have given her an answer, as the stupid bitch in front of me started texting and the light of her phone shined directly in my face, completely distracting me from the movie I just paid thirty fucking bucks for. I wanted to kick the back of the stupid bitch’s chair as hard as I could, but I didn’t because I was still trying to make a good impression on the redhead that I was with since it was our first date.

Instead, I quietly seethed and hoped her cell phone would one day give her a fucking brain tumor.

And even though I will shamefully and painfully admit to enjoying texts from people when they’re not sitting in a movie theater or at their friends’ houses ignoring everyone while they play with their stupid ass phones or trying to kill me on my motorcycle as they text and drive, I can honestly say that I hate my own LG Shine with a passion that is pure and right and true. Like I wrote earlier, I can’t hear shit on it. I rarely even notice the bastard phone even ring because the ringer isn’t loud enough. And it is almost always on the verge of dying. It has the battery life of one of those big 80’s jam boxes that people used to carry around on their shoulders like idiots.

I don’t know. Maybe I bought the wrong phone.

Despite my love/hate relationship with cell phones, especially my own, they aren’t going anywhere. They’re omnipresent. Within five minutes of leaving your house you’ll see some idiot texting and driving.

Like the future, the texts just keep coming. And I keep answering them. They reproduce exponentially. They have a life of their own. I delete them and delete them but there are always more. They are relentless and unyielding and they will never stop unless I quit responding or throw my phone in the Ohio River.

Our cell phones eat up our attention, our time. Our imaginations. We think we own them, but the truth is, they own us. And we are all their willing slaves.

And my cell inbox just filled up with texts again while I wrote this.

I hope at least one of them is pertaining to a future blow job.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fuck You For Not Smoking

I like to smoke. I don’t really care if you don’t like it. I like to smoke when I drink. I like to smoke a lot. I like smoky bars full of people fucking smoking. Drinking and smoking and having a good fucking time where there isn’t a single asthmatic child, or any child for that matter, in the whole damn building.

Since April 1st, 2007 no one in Paducah has been able to legally smoke a cigarette indoors in any bars, restaurants, or hotels within the city limits. The city wide smoking ban wasn’t decided by area voters but by a few city commissioners that decided second hand smoke was killing people and needed to be outlawed for the greater good.

Area bar and restaurant owners got the big fuck you from the city commissioners when their input on the ordinance was ignored, and they watched their business revenues plummet. People opted to drink and eat at home rather than suffer the hassle of smoking outside. Some area bars compensated by setting up beer gardens and outdoor areas for smokers, but they're useless when it's cold or raining outside.

Studies stating business revenues are completely unaffected by smoking bans have been rolled out in the propaganda war on smoker's rights, but anyone with half a brain knows that on a night when it’s below freezing, people who like to smoke and drink are going to stay home where they can do both at the same time.

You may not be aware of this, but the first nation-wide smoking bans took place in Nazi Germany back in the 1930s and 40s. Hitler was a vegetarian and an avid non-smoker who thought that all Aryan Germans should be in perfect health and able to reproduce to make enough little Nazis to rule the planet. The Nazi scientists concluded that women who smoked were less likely to bear children because of the effects of premature aging and loss of physical attraction which they linked to smoking. So they implemented bans all over Germany banning smoking in many public places.

The initial effect of the smoking bans was a nearly doubled increase in the amount of tobacco consumption across Germany because apparently the master race loved to light up after dinner or sex or with one of their yummy German beers and they didn’t like being told what they could put in their bodies by Hitler and his Nazi cronies.

After the end of World War 2 many of the leaders in the Nazi anti-smoking campaign were executed, as they rightly should have been, and smoking then went on to rise to bigger, greater heights in Germany than it ever had before fueled by opportunistic American cigarette manufacturers that saw gold in them there hills. The German people freed from the fascist Nazis could once again put that sweet poisonous smoke in their bodies if they wanted to because they were, after all, their bodies.

And all was right with the world.

Except now in present day America smoking bans and bans on unhealthy ingredients such as trans-fats have become the rule rather the exception in states, cities and counties all across the nation.

We defeated our enemy only to eventually become them.

Or, at the very least, we seem to think that whole smoking ban idea the Nazis came up with sixty plus years ago was really awesome and not at all fascist. No, really. It’s not. Just stop thinking, shut up, and breathe in that guy’s BO at the table next to you that you used to not be able to smell when it was all smoky in here and your sense of smell was dulled. We were missing out on so much before we got this sweet smoke-free air.

I’m not going to assert that smoking isn’t bad for you because that would be completely insane and obviously a lie. Smoking is bad for you. It’s really bad for you. It’s a vicious fucking addiction and I wish I’d never started and that I did not enjoy it as much as I do. It can give you lung cancer, a heart attack, impotence, and all sorts of nasty shit. There are so many health risks involved in smoking that you likely need to be mildly insane just to keep doing it or to even start in the first place.

And I will be the first person to admit that tobacco companies are operated by completely evil assholes with a body count that puts every war in the history of mankind to shame and every member on their board of executives is going straight to hell when they die.

But the primary reasoning behind the current smoking bans isn’t the dangerous side effects on the people that are actually smoking, but rather the effects of the second hand smoke on the non-smokers around them. The real problem with that line of reasoning is the overwhelming lack of evidence that people actually get things like lung cancer and die from second hand smoke. It probably isn’t actually good for you to breathe someone else’s smoke, but it’s probably not good for you to breathe exhaust fumes the whole time you’re driving either. It’s probably not good for you to get totally jack-hammered on Saturday night on cheap booze, but it’s still your right as a free citizen of the United States of America to drink as much of that particular poison as you want as long as you don’t get behind the wheel of a car or beat your wife. And, hey, it’s also a lot of fun being drunk.

When we were kids we breathed everyone’s second hand smoke like people had for thousands of years before us, and we didn’t even notice or care. Sure, there were probably some kids with asthma that suffered for it, but the vast majority of us were completely unfazed and physically unaffected. We’re not all dying of lung cancer or keeling over from heart attacks. We’re fine. Or we used to be.

I will concede that smoking bans in certain places like hospitals make sense. I don’t have to be a fan of that fascist ideal to understand that from a logical stand point you don’t want sick people breathing smoke. There’s a time and a place for everything including smoking.

And that time and place is in a bar.

It’s a scary world when things that have been part of our social traditions for thousands of years vanish overnight, and very few people care. We’re not that far away from prohibition of tobacco, and, unlike illegal drugs that actually get you high which people will never quit buying because their lives skullfuck them with boredom, cigarettes will become a thing of the past.

The last time someone thought that a little nugget of fascism would be a really swell idea was alcohol prohibition. And, hello, organized crime! We’ve been going through a second prohibition with drugs since Nixon was in office, and that war is also a miserable failure. Where there is demand, there will always be supply.

Our government can ban everything that is bad for us and take away every freedom we ever took for granted in the process. But they will never change human nature.

I’m not smoking just to look cool right now, or because it helps me focus when I’m writing, or because I’m a filthy nicotine addict.

I am smoking because I still can.