Day started with 8:00 mass because we are solid Catholics both, true to The Game and all that. The priest had an interactive homily about the baggage we carry and asked members of the congregation to hold onto some clothes of his he would not be taking on his vacation in Rome. He walked from pew to pew handing stuff out. I can't remember the point-- divesting oneself of the unnecessary?-- but it was lively and nice. We stopped outside Graceland, but did not go inside to genuflect. We stopped in Little Rock to have lunch, walk along the river, and visit--our third temple of the day-- the extraordinarily horrible Clinton Library. Just awful. The rest of the day was spent driving. So was the previous--Chicago to Memphis. There we had ribs and checked out Beale Street and went to bed late. After Dallas we'd drive to Austin, pick up our friend Anton, spend the night there, and drive to San Antonio in the morning. After a brief cameo at the Alamo, I'd split for Chicago via jet airplane and Anton would accompany Sonari the rest of the way to Los Angeles via electric car. Anton and I were just there to hang, someone to talk with and at on the long drive across the continent. Analog company in a digital time.
So here we were, two garrulous friends, totally spent, checking emails, headlines, weather, whatever--everything but each other. I looked around and noticed that the bar was full of people talking to each other as they watched the Oscars. No one was on a phone but the two of us.
"Sonari, we're being those people."
"What people?" he asked without looking up.
He made a face. "Dude, I've been listening to you yap for sixteen hours."
"Yes," I said, "But these people don't know that."
That's what I wanted to tell the Texans surrounding us. We weren't sorry refugees from the decadent north, so socially broken that we no longer knew how to behave in public. We were mildly tech-savvy at best. Not Luddites, sure, but we also hate (as I assume they did) the kind of people who are always trying to be there instead of here. We were well-read, well-rounded, friendly guys and not stereotypical douchebags of the early 21st century, contrary to current appearances.
So you never can tell. That's my moral.
The problem is, unfortunately, that we are all at times that dickhead staring at the phone. Yet every time we get caught, we have an excuse at the ready for why, like Sonari and I did at 10:00 PM, 2/24/2013, at that strip-mall honky-tonk just a mule spit outside the Big D.
"I'm moving all the way to Los Angeles, and two of my best friends would rather stare at phones than have a conversation."
Right then, yes. We did, I'm sure. But it was a kind of talking to each other. Even still, we put them away. We did not want to seem like those people, the pathetic adults who need a constant fix from a blinking pocket toy. Neither of us bothered to say that music was culture and here we are using the great tools of modern life to share some of the best of what has been thought and said-- in this instance, the best of what has been sung and played.
Nah, we just locked the screens and pocketed the devices, because cell phones, man? They're killing us. People just don't know how to behave anymore. Me and Anton get it, though. Watch us prove it by putting 'em away. For now.