Dreaming of a time before FaceTime

I’m afraid we’ve crossed a line we can’t uncross.

Although I like to think of myself as a flexible person and do my best to at least pretend to know and appreciate technology, there are some lines that I don’t like to cross. On Friday, my wife made me cross that line.

I was sitting at my computer trying think of a topic for a column when my wife called.

“I need you to hang up,” my wife said.

“Then why did you call me?” I asked.

It was, I thought, a reasonable question.

“You didn’t let me finish,” my wife said.

Silly me, I figured that when my wife told me that she needed me to hang up, she was finished talking. What’s left to say after you tell someone to hang up?

“I need you to hang up so I can call you back on FaceTime,” my wife said.

That was the line-crosser.

Look, I know that people have been FaceTiming (or whatever you call it) each other on their phones for years. I just never wanted to be one of those people.

See, I’ve always thought a telephone was a giant invasion of privacy and this goes back long before cellphones came around. In the dark, pre-cellphone days, I hated having a phone at home because when it would ring, I was expected to answer it and talk to whoever was on the other end of the line. And if I didn’t, the next day the person who tried to call me would say, “Hey, where were you last night? I tried to call you.” And I would be forced to come up with a lie rather than simply say, “I didn’t want to talk to you.”

Then along came the answering machine, which meant that the person who called me that I didn’t want to talk to could now leave a message and the next day say, “Hey, why didn’t you call me back? I left you a message.” And then I would have to lie and say that my answering machine was broken rather than say, “I didn’t want to talk to you.”

Then, along came the cellphone, and what little that was left of my privacy was gone.

And now my wife is calling me and telling me to hang up so we can FaceTime.

“I don’t know how to do that,” I said when my wife told me that she wanted us to FaceTime.

“Just answer the phone when I call,” my wife said.

“Oh,” I said.

A couple minutes later, my phone rang. I answered it, and there was my wife staring at me.

“What?” I said.

“Why don’t you have a shirt on?” she asked.

See, right there, is the problem with FaceTime. If my wife just called me the old-fashioned way, I wouldn’t have to answer a question like, “Why don’t you have a shirt on?”

I started to explain to my wife that I was going to put on a shirt but got distracted by the fact that I didn’t yet have a column topic so I sat at the computer for a minute to try to think of one but  she cut me off.

“Never mind. Go put a shirt on. The guy at the store needs to show you something,” my wife said.

I wanted to say, “Well why didn’t you tell me you were in a store before you called me on FaceTime?” but I figured the conversation would just go downhill from there.

Turns out my wife wanted the guy to show me some sort of device that will allow us to call people through our computer.

“I don’t want that,” I said.

“Tough,” my wife said.

According to my wife, the device will save us money because we won’t be calling people through our phone. We’ll be calling people through our computer and they can call us through their computer.


Line crossed. Privacy lost.

I’m getting a beer. And I’m taking my shirt off.