iPhone. The “I” stands for idiot. That’s me, the iPhone idiot, taking lessons from my son Dan and his four-year-old daughter Grace. Yes, I want to be one of those people who look down when they walk. I want to bump into telephone poles and fall off the curb. I want music to soar, like the Eroica Symphony, from the barely audible speakers. I want to check my emails every two seconds to see if anyone is thinking of me or if they’ve all forgotten that I exist.
I hate being lonely. I want to be a modern woman and know the meaning of “apps” and learn how to text. If Grace Catherine can text, then so can I.
Is the iPhone a thing of beauty as the late Steve Jobs claimed? Mine is an older version. A hand-me-down. As heavy in the hand as a small slice of peach pie, with no whipped cream on top. An indention like a chin dimple turns it on and off. Since both indentation and the frame around the phone are black, I paint the dimple with pink nail polish so I can see it.
On its no-slip back is the logo of the Macintosh apple with a small bite that Eve has taken out of it. But is an apple just an apple? Turning it over I discover a baby’s bib with a slash of sunlight entering the kitchen.
I have also pasted my phone number onto the back. This is in case I lose it. My late friend the poet Elaine Restifo taught me how to do it. Postage stamps come with extra sticky strips you can peel off. This I do and print in two strips: 784 and 2009. The 215 area code of Philadelphia is unnecessary.
The first thing I notice when I press the pink dimple and the phone switches on with nary a flourish or a sound is: the time of day. This shocks me. I do not like to be reminded. I am sixty-nine years old – can’t figure out how I got so old already – and almost died four years ago from faltering kidneys. My daughter Sarah rode in like Sir Gallahad and donated her left kidney to me.
On Facebook she cheers me on. “Mom,” she says. “You can do it! You can master the iPhone.”
My granddaughter Grace comforts me. I have gone over this evening for a steak dinner.
“How wonderful it’s still light out,” I say during this first week in February. Grace and her little brother Max are using scented Magic Markers to paint pictures on the two glass patio doors.
“Smell it, Bubby,” she says. “It smells like chocolate. I want to eat it.”
She laughs with glee.
After dinner, after we’ve eaten the strangely delicious chocolate-flavored popcorn mama Nicole has bought, Dan, Grace and I repair to the dining room table.
The lesson begins.
“Mom,” he chides me. He is a lovely young man, never cross with me, but for my own good tells me I must “tap” the screen correctly in order for the icon to work.
Look! I have remembered the word “icon!”
The entire screen shimmies like a Hawaiian dancer after I tap the screen too roughly.
“I do that sometimes myself,” laughs Grace, in her dinosaur PJs which enclose her feet. She is on her own iPhone watching a Disney film on the tiny screen.
Hmmm, I wonder what her phone number is?
Would she mind if I called her at nursery school to help me out?