Dale was finally faced with the decision he knew would come, he just wished he had had more time. Having been handed the ultimatum more than 16 hours ago, he only had 8 hours remaining before the choice would be demanded… or made for him.
Dale had lived an unexceptional life for the majority of his thirty-six years. He had been a C+ student in high school, managed to graduate from a state school a little over four years later. It seemed Dale was destined to coast for the rest of his life, never really excelling but not failing either, just… maintaining.
That all changed the day Dale bought his first cell phone. At first, he didn’t really notice anything change. It was only when he took a call while he was visiting his sister and her husband that he was made aware of his peculiar behavior. You see, Dale became incredibly productive, almost manically so, when he was on his cell phone. It didn’t matter who he was talking to, how long he talked or if he placed or received the call. Upon hanging up, Dale would find he had achieved some incredible feats while he was shooting the breeze. The house would be cleaned, his car would be washed, four course meals would seem to make themselves, stocks were traded, Dale had even managed to write a novelette over the course of several conversations with his long distance girlfriend at the time, it was a best seller.
There were other successes thanks to this peculiar behavior, not to mention the fame it brought him. Soon Dale was living in the Hollywood Hills, lending his expertise or productivity to anyone who requested it… for a hefty fee of course.
It got to a point that Dale refused to do anything unless he was on the phone for the duration. A cell phone or blue tooth was constantly attached to his ear (he had even contemplated having one surgically attached one night after a few too many beers; had it not been for the inability for him to update the device once it was attached, he might have gone through with it). This, as you can imagine interfered with his ‘in person’ relationships, including his relationship with his fiancé, Gillian.
Gillian, a patient soul by nature, put up with the ‘quirk’ because she loved Dale and knew if it came down to it, he would hang up that damned device if she asked him too. But, over the years, she began to doubt that conviction, especially as it became harder and harder to hold his attention for more than the few minutes it took for him to end one call and begin the next.
The breaking point had come the day Gillian received the news of her mother’s death. Turning to her loving fiancé for comfort, Gillian was instead met with a finger held up to her face as Dale continued his phone call and the oil painting he was working on. Heartbroken, Gillian left a voicemail on his cell and then left. The words were difficult to understand through the sobbing, but the message was clear- Dale had 24 hours to decide, lose the phone or lose her.
And now he only had 8 hours left to make the biggest decision of his life. Panic was beginning to set in. He loved Gillian, he loved her more than he loved anything else in the world- including his phone. But what if he gave up his phone and then lost everything, his contracts, his friends, his business partners, his money, what would happen to him? Dale did the only thing he knew how to do when faced with a problem in need of a quick solution… he picked up the phone. He spoke to his mom, his sister, his best friend, even the bar tender at his favorite pub; no one seemed to give him the reassurance he was looking for. Finally, an hour before the deadline, he hung up the phone.
Wincing from the stress, he shut his eyes and rubbed them with the back of his hands. As he opened them, he noticed the canvas across the room he had been painting when Gillian had given her ultimatum. Instead of the original work, which had been a still life of some fruit, the canvas now bore a beautiful rendition of Gustav Klimt’s famous work The Kiss. It was Gillian’s favorite painting, and as he peered closer to his recent work he noticed that the face of the woman in her lover’s embrace looked a little- off. It was Gillian’s face. He had painted Gillian’s favorite painting with her face incorporated flawlessly into the masterpiece. It was clear what he had to do.
Dale smiled as the little girl on the swing set waved to him and kicked her legs wildly as she rose higher into the sky. Wondering where the girls’ mother might be Dale scanned the park and found her- she was talking on her cell phone. Leaning over, he kissed his wife’s forehead, as she lay outstretched on the park bench next to him with her head on his lap. Gillian smiled without opening her eyes and instinctively cradled her swollen belly, happy in this moment and happy knowing that her nap was in no danger of being interrupted by the chirruping of a cell phone.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: As I may have mentioned before, I am not a phone person. It’s maybe my least favorite means of communication. Now, having said that… I was thrilled to see my friend’s name pop up on my caller ID this afternoon and spent at least an hour and a half catching up and chatting. While engaged in conversation, I have this need to be moving or doing something, I can’t just sit and chat. So, as we chatted I cleaned the kitchen, walked the backyard for several laps, played fetch with my dog and started dinner. All using primarily one hand (as I needed the other to keep the phone pressed to my ear). After hanging up and seeing how much I had accomplished (in comparison to my usual sedentary state) I started to wonder if that was a normal phenomenon. Of course I took it further and wondered if I were to talk on the phone all day, how much could I get done? I may just have to try that sometime.
TWO: Gustav Klimt is my favorite (or at least in the top 5) artists and The Kiss is one of my absolute favorite of his works… I actually got to see it in person on a trip to Vienna, Austria many, many moons ago. I mentioned it in the story because while taking a cat nap at work today (yes, I nap at work sometimes during my lunch break… have I mentioned how much I LOVE having a door to my office?) I dreamt about that painting. I don’t remember the context but thought it worth including.
Love & Squirrels.