My mother-in-law Ms. Larda paid good money for a new digitalized TV, and the remote control wouldn’t work. So she stormed back to the store, and a clerk who looked to be about 12 politely explained that this was the remote for her ceiling fan.
“So I’m not a techie. So shoot me,” she says to me, when I smirk a little.
Ms. Larda don’t approve of digitals, or the Web, or cyber-anything.
She did break down and got a cell phone, but she uses it for one purpose only. Phone calls.
No taking pictures. No games. No texting. No tweedling. Not even caller I.D.
“If I don’t want to talk to somebody, I just hang up,” she tells me.
When we were on our way to church last Sunday, I saw her take her phone out of the back pocket of her stretch slacks and turn it off. I explained that all she has to do is set it to vibrate, and she’ll know if she gets a call without disturbing anybody. She says that if her rear end starts vibrating in church, it would disturb her plenty.
Now, Ms. Larda don’t have an inconspicuous backside, so it would probably disturb the people behind her too.
I think about that. I had my phone on vibrate, but I switched it to my front pants pocket. Not that I would start blathering on my phone in the middle of church, but I happened to be worried about my daughter Gladiola. She is a teenager, so she has the sleeping habits of a vampire. But last Sunday she had dance team practice, so she had to actually rise during daylight hours. I yelled for her to wake up before I left, but I couldn’t stop to insist on it because I was running late.
I had spilt my morning coffee on my one clean pair of slacks, so I had to scrub them out real quick. This left a wet spot, so I scooted outside and hung them to dry in the sun on my the balcony railing – looking all directions at once to be sure nobody saw me in my ruffled blouse with nothing but black lace drawers underneath.
(Sometimes I forget I live in the French Quarter now. If anybody did see, they’d probably just take me for a transvestite.) Then I did my hair, streaked out and snatched my pants in, yanked them on, grabbed my purse and cell phone and shot out the front door.
Right in the middle of church, I feel my pocket jiggling. I figure Gladiola missed her ride to dance practice. I quietly pull out my phone, but nobody is calling. So I put it back. Then I feel jiggling again. Nobody, again.
After Mass, I call Gladiola. She is already at practice, so me and Ms. Larda decide to get us some coffee at The Royal Spoon. But two times on the way to the shop, I feel this jiggling, and two times I get out my phone and there’s nobody there. Finally I turn it off.
And then there’s another jiggle – not in my pocket, but just above my knee.
Uh-oh, says Ms. Larda. It ain’t good when your leg starts twitching on its own. She remembers that movie where people get parasites inside them that grow and then leap out their chest. Then she starts remembering people she once knew, who are dead now from dreaded diseases which always started with a twitch in their leg.
As soon as we get to the coffee shop, I head straight for the bathroom to have a look at what is going on under my pants leg. Ms. Larda tags along behind me, because nature is calling. It is crowded in there, and I have to wait in line, jiggling. Finally I get into a stall, and I drop my pants – and out jumps a little green lizard.
You know, now that almost everybody has cell phones, you’re used to hearing people having conversations inside the bathroom stall. When they first say “Hiii, how’ve you been?” you might be a little startled, but then you shrug and think “cell phone.”
But nobody has gotten used to a wild shriek from inside a bathroom stall – which is what I let out as I leapt on top the toilet seat. (Not that I’m afraid of lizards – it’s just you don’t expect them in your pants.)
Evidently this kind of shrieking is contagious, because everybody else in that little crowded bathroom immediately let out their own screech. We probably broke a few coffee cups up in front the shop.
By now the lizard was out the stall and heading up the wall by the wash basins, where a whole new contingent of ladies started screaming. Then, quick as a frog thwacks a fly on its tongue, Ms. Larda snatched him by the tail, stepped to the window and flipped him into the courtyard. (I know a lizard can unhitch its tail and leave it behind when it’s scared enough. There are probably a lot of lizard shoes made just of tails. But this one never had a chance.)
I watched this over the stall door because I was on top the toilet seat, and I was still not in my right mind, because I yelled at the top of my lungs – like you would say “That man stole my purse!” – “That lizard was in my pants!” So now the entire coffee shop knows.
After we slink out (without coffee; we don’t need it now) Ms. Larda mentions, real casual, not looking at me, just looking up at the sky, that maybe she ain’t no high-techie, but she knows the difference between her cell phone and a lizard in her pants.
I ain’t ever going to lecture her about digitalizing again.