Say what?

I was chatting with someone the other day about a possible interview for a column. “I’ll give you a call,” I said. “Are you in the book?”
Her college-aged daughter cracked up.
“You say that too?” she exclaimed. “My mom always says that.”
At first I was going to ask her “Say what?” but then it hit me. The book, as in the phone book, only means something to people my age. Not only do young people not have phone books, most of them don’t have phones. Well, not “land lines” anyway, as they refer to the contraptions sitting in the houses of their parents and grandparents.
Young people have smart phones only. And when they need a phone number, they go to whitepages.com.
The book? Are you kidding?
Funny thing is, I bet most of them still “dial” numbers on those smart phones. We haven’t left that expression behind even though no one has actually “dialed” a phone in decades.
Few devices have changed our lives as much as cell phones and smart phones. And that includes not just how we talk but, well, how we talk. Until the cell phone, calling someone and asking them “Where are you?” was even more ridiculous than asking if you are in the book. When there were only land lines, there was only one place the person could be. Home. Or at the office. Today it could be anywhere.
“The Fonz” on “Happy Days” and some of my friends before “The Fonz” even existed, used to answer the phone with, “It’s your dime, start talking.”
The reference was to “pay phones.” It was so cool back then. And so meaningless now.
When was the last time you saw a pay phone? There’s a whole generation that’s never seen one.
A few years ago I was playing tennis with my friend when we heard this unusual sound. “Listen,” he said, “that bird sounds just like a cell phone.”
I agreed. And then realized it was my cell phone.
And how’s this? If I am driving and I answer my cell phone I often find myself saying, “Just a minute while I roll up the windows so I can hear you better.”
“Roll” up the windows?
Yes, I’m a dinosaur.

Ed Ackerman