In the Palm of My Hand


On the hour-long ride to Champaign to see my therapist (for mainly non-Scrabble-related issues, though I suppose depression can be Scrabble-related), I put a bottle of opened Vitamin Water Zero, orange flavor, in my fairly new Dooney and Burke purse. I thought I had securely closed the top of the bottle, but apparently I hadn’t. One of the advantages of expensive purses is that they have really good inner linings. This is also their disadvantage. Once the water spilled, it did not quickly permeate the soft leather, but kind of just settled at the bottom, like radioactive waste water at Three Mile Island, sloshing around with my cosmetics and chewing gum and pens.

And iPhone.

I tried to resuscitate the poor thing, giving it my own version of mouth to mouth, wildly turning it on and off, which is the worst thing one can do to a soggy phone. The people at Verizon tried bringing it around, and temporarily succeeded. The phone worked when it was attached to some special wire connected to a computer, but stopped functioning the minute it was removed. I quickly had to face the painful truth—the phone was in a coma, and I would have to pull it off life support.  I also had to decide whether to shell out four hundred bucks for a new phone or wait until February 24th to get my upgrade for a hundred dollars. I decided to wait. I can wait. I am brave, yes, very brave.

At first I took this entire incident as a sign that I spend too much time on the phone. After much theological pondering, I realized I don’t use the phone function all that much.  I prefer face to face conversation, followed by email. What I mainly use the iPhone for is to listen to music, monitor Ebay bids, and, most importantly, study Scrabble words. What would I do now if I couldn’t anagram, couldn’t examine the eight letter OUT words, couldn’t review the four-to-make fives?  My hands began to shake. I felt sweat pouring down my forehead. Everything started to spin.

“What’s wrong?” Marty asked.

He knew about the death of the iPhone and told me I could borrow his primitive Trackphone, which, frankly speaking, I’d be embarrassed to carry around. What would my students think? The little bit of coolness cache I’ve acquired over the years would dissipate in an instant.

“How will I anagram and look up words?” I wailed.

“Well, you have your computer.”

“I’m not going to take my computer for a walk or bring it to a concert or sit on the toilet with it.”

“I can lend you one of my Palm Pilots.”

Carrying around a Palm Pilot is even worse than toting a Trackphone.

Marty has a small army of Palm Pilots. None of them has the phone function because, well, these are the really old Palms, the ones that Moses used to write down notes and commandments from God.

“Why do you need so many?” I’ve asked him. (Marty, not God.)

“It’s better to be on the safe side. A thief might sneak into the house at night specifically looking for old Palm Pilots.”

Marty knows the day is coming when the Scrabble dictionary is updated and he’ll have to cave in and get a fancy phone because the Palms won’t be able to upload the new words. He’s not looking forward to this day.

Marty handed me Palm Pilot as if it were some ancient and valuable scroll that might disintegrate in my hands.

“Be very very careful,” he said.

“Hey, what’s this stick?” I asked.

“It’s a stylus.”

“Wow. You can probably bring this Palm to The Antiques Road Show.”

“Not funny.”

“Where’s the function that lets me know what letters go with a word?”

“The Palm can’t do that.”

“How do I get the words from longest to shortest?”

“I’m afraid you can’t.”

It’s going to be a long two months.