I’m the first to admit that smartphones have their uses, like swiping a babe on Tinder or calculating a perfect five-percent tip at a steak house.
But you know what I miss? The good old days when we weren’t running around with these little devils in our pockets, hooked up to “the cloud,” telling us exactly when to “wake up” and “leave for work” and “text the ex about picking up Braydon from karate.” What kind of life is that? It’s prompt and punctual and stifling and oppressive!
Before smartphones, the clocks didn’t need to agree.
“Now” meant “soon.”
“Soon” meant “stop hassling me.”
“I’ll pick you up at eight” meant, “my van will be in your driveway when it’s kind of dark out or whatever.”
There was less stress. Start times weren’t a big deal. Your boss at Blockbuster Video couldn’t say crap. One person’s 8:30 was another person’s 10:52. And 10:52 was a suggestion, kind of like, “try the nachos.” Also, times weren’t numbers back then; they were more like guitar chords or bucket hats—a state of mind, my friend.
Everything was more fun back then. Everything. You’d pull up to your bank to cash a check and realize it was already closed because, wait, what time was it again? But then the security guard would peek out from around the corner, all like, “Hey man, you holding?” Then you’d smoke a joint together. Then you’d remember you’re seeing Rush live at the Fillmore that night, so it’d be like, “Life JAMS, dude!”
Before the clocks were synced, we had less bullshit and more hoagies. We also had more sex and fewer meetings. We got more venereal diseases, but we cared less. We were fine.
After work, you’d meet all your buds at Sharky’s Billiards Bar. You’d roll in with your flame-covered pool cue at 10:00 p.m., or 1:30 a.m., or 3:00 p.m. the next day. Didn’t matter. It wasn’t some obnoxious work happy hour for 6:00 p.m. chodes. You’d show up whenever you felt like it, wearing your leather jacket, a cigarette sticking out of each side of your mouth, a cig behind each ear, a few random cigs scattered throughout your ponytail. You’d high-five the boys, the bartender, and Max the undercover DEA Agent. “What time is it, boys?” Who cares. iCloud? What’s that? Shut up and rack ’em!
Life was amazing.
I remember it like it was yesterday: You’d shout, “Gotta go, boys, I’m meeting the GF for Thai food!”
Then the boys would hoot and holler and crack an imaginary whip for what seemed like way too long.
You’d stroll into Thai Fresh like a prince and say, “Hey, babe, let’s order a bunch of those crunchy spring rolls.”
And Meredith would go, “Babe, you realize that you’re two hours and fifteen minutes late again?”
And you would go, “According to who? My watch says I’m right on time.”
And she would go, “According to the time that the rest of the world runs on, Chaz.”
And you would just point to your Swatch watch that your Uncle Denny gave you as a kid in the mideighties.
And she would go, “That thing is broken. I think it’s a knock-off. Look at how the logo is peeling off—”
And you would go, “But my UNCLE gave this to me. He was a Green Beret.”
And she would go, “Look, can we PLEASE just get you a working watch?”
And you would go, “Well, excuse me for not calling the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Atomic Clock Hotline on my rotary phone so I can live up to your impossible expectations.”
And she would go, “I feel like you’re not actually sorry, and you’re just mocking me for expecting a basic level of respect in this relationship.”
And then you would stomp your feet and make your signature hissing noise.
And she would go, “Use your words, Charlie. Your words!”
And you would realize that Meredith is not the woman for you, never was. You’d storm out of the Thai place, jump on your knock-off Harley, a few cigs falling out of your ponytail, never looking back.
You would be free: tethered to no one and nothing but the open road and the whims of your heart. The clocks in every Blockbuster and bank lobby in America could kiss your beautiful, bubble-round ass. None of them agreed anyway.
Then you’d remember you were late to pick up your son Braydon from karate. Your ex-wife was gonna be pissed!
You’d turn around and haul ass. Man, those were the days.