Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Seventy is the new thirty

First, a confession: I am a complete jerk. I forgot my dad's birthday. It's not the first time, either. Every year August comes around before I know it and sometime between one to ten days after his birthday, I suddenly remember. This year was no exception.

I remembered the day after his birthday and tried a few times to call him in the afternoon. He didn't answer his home phone. I wondered if I could get away with telling him I had been trying to call since yesterday. It's tempting, but I'll stick with being the worst daughter ever and not top it off with being a liar. I tried his cell phone in the afternoon.

He picks it up and it sounds like he's driving, but I can't make out anything he is saying. It sounds like electronic noise.
Hello? Dad?
Dad? Can you hear me?
Zzz. ZzzzzZZZ Zzzz ZZ?
Hello? Uh yeah, I can't hear a thing. I will call you back later today.
Okay. Call you back in twenty minutes?
Got it.

Definite technical difficulties.

A couple of months ago I called my dad from a busy airport to follow up on an email he hadn't responded to. When I asked him about it, he said, "Oh. I responded but it must not have gone through. I was on my iPhone."

Wait, what? Did he just say iPhone? No way. Surely the background noise drowned him out. He must have said, I.. was on MY Phone. Or even more plausible, he was using a dial-up connection for the internet but the phone rang when a telemarketer called and the email remained unsent. That sounds like a much more reasonable explanation. My septuagenarian father using an iPhone.... one that he owns... to send me an email? That is highly improbable.

I'm sorry, I didn't hear you correctly Dad... did you say I - Phone? Do you mean to say Jitterbug? Eye... phone?

"Yeah, your uncle talked me into getting an iPhone. I can't figure out how to use it most of the time."

Here, the story becomes more plausible. My father being talked into an iPhone purchase by his younger and gadget-loving brother, and then not having any idea which side to speak into... I could see that. Still, I'm skeptical. I saw him a few months ago and his cellphone looked like this:

And before that, like this.

Needless to say, the jump to an iPhone was a bit of a surprise. I have to admit, I was impressed. Even though I couldn't hear a word he was saying when I attempted my annual birthday apology call, I was impressed with the old hipster. I called back 20 minutes later and the reception was perfectly clear.

"Sorry dad, I couldn't hear a word you were saying."

"That's okay. I was on the Bluetooth."

Wait, what? Clearly my father is referring to something that requires dental work because never would I picture him driving around with a bluetooth in his ear. Who is this man? Where is the Nokia-toting technophobe I knew only a few short months ago? I am baffled. Somehow I have entered an alternate universe.

At any rate, I missed my dad's birthday and I'm still a jerk. I was unsuccessful at convincing him to change his birthdate to something easier to remember. I gave him a litany of excuses why I didn't call him on his birthday: I was working; I didn't realize it was August already; the dog ate my calendar; I don't have a fancy iPhone to do everything for me and my pen ran out of ink... He seemed fine with it, but I'm still a jerk and will remain a jerk for another 363 days when I have a chance to redeem myself again.

Later that evening I called my mother. They have been divorced for years, but they amicably coexist. I told her about my dad's new iPhone.

"Is that what you have?"
"No, I have a Droid. Dad's is automatically more hip because it's made by Apple."
She suddenly and excitedly changes the subject:
"Hey! Did I tell you?!? I bought a Magic Jack!! Have you seen those on TV? You hook it up to your computer and save a ton of money on your phone bill. Your aunt is coming over today to hook mine up for me!"

And a calm suddenly comes over me as balance is finally restored to the universe. These are the parents I know and love.


Paul said...

When do you start filming the pilot for the sitcom that is your life?

Even that ancient behemoth of a cell phone is more than I have, so your dad is light years beyond me.

I have a cousin who lives in Alaska. He's had a Magic Jack for a while and loves it. You can attach it to any area code you want, so he's using a Minneapolis one. That way, whenever his mom dials him up, it's a local call.

Me, I'm thinking about getting a similar gizmo called Ooma.

Thanks for the birthdaytorial, telephonic laughs.

po said...

This is hilarious. Though if age is measured in phone technology, I'm afraid I'm about 104.