The greatest thing I did this year was buy a smartphone. Yeah, I was one of those chumps who always had a dumbphone. Specifically, a flip. Why? Because I’m a dumbass, that’s why. And because I’m a cheap bastard, but you guys knew that. I’m always the last to do something – the last to get a flatscreen TV, the last to get an Xbox, the last to get on Tinder. Speaking of which, Tinder and dating and girls are why I finally got a smartphone. You just knew there was a girl in this story, didn’t you?
So rewind to mid-summer of this almost-gone year. It was a sunny day in West Hollywood. I was at my gym, working out my bi’s and tri’s when I spotted a girl stretching at the jungle strap area. She was pony-tailed, brunette, and gorgeous. Her iPhone was tucked into her sports bra. She had headphones on. Now normally I don’t talk to girls at the gym who have headphones on. But something about her said, “Rich, I want you to come talk to me.” Actually she didn’t want me to do anything, I don’t think she even noticed me. I just thought she was freakin gorgeous and super fit. And I’ve always been a sucker for a girl in black yoga pants. So after checking her out a few times sideways in the mirror as I pretended to do curls, I dropped the weights to the floor and approached her.
“Hey, those are great shoes.”
She pulled off a headphone. “What?”
“I said, those are great shoes.”
We both looked down at her super neon pink Nikes. I stuck my foot next to hers. I had on some brand-new Bruin blue Nikes that had cost me $125. Our shoes looked similar. Similarly awesome.
“We have the same shoes, kinda”, I said.
She laughed. “Yes, I think we do.” She had a bit of an accent. Eastern European.
“Where did you get your shoes? I wanna get some for my Mom.”
She paused for a moment. “Hmm, I believe I got them at a shop in West Los Angeles. The name of it was maybe Sports Authorities or Sports…” She continued on, she was really friendly, it turned out.
Shoe talk – forget this. I interrupted her. “Actually, I have to admit…while I do really like your shoes, I just thought that you’re super good looking so that’s why I came over to talk to you.”
The girl busted out laughing, astonished. “Oh my god!” She pulled her headphones off all the way. “You really tricked me! I really thought you were interested in my shoes!”
I shrugged. “Well, you know, my shoes are better anyway. And bluer.”
She looked me over. I had on my fancy black and white wife-beater tank top. “You know, no one has ever tried to pick me up in a gym in LA. You are the first.”
I gave her my best Tom Cruise-ian shit-eating grin. “First and the best. So how was it? How was my pickup?”
“Terrible,” she said.
“Ok I’ll try to do better next time. So what about other gyms not in LA. Where are you from by the way?” I asked her.
“Germany,” she replied.
And there in the middle of the stretching area, with a bunch of people watching but pretending not to watch, she told me her micro story. Her name was Agatha. Turns out she wanted to be an actress, had been in LA for six months, was taking acting classes and auditioning (it was going okay only), and was supposed to be here for a year.
“Well,” I said, “you’re pretty cute so you’ll probably be in Transformers 6, no problem.”
“Maybe,” she said. She looked doubtful. I wondered about her auditions. The idea that a girl who looks like that and can’t get work in Hollywood is actually pretty common sadly, but that’s a story for some other rag.
“Aw, you’ll make it, no worries. You’re cool too, so that helps.” She seemed pleased by this. I meant it too. “So, are you single?”
Agatha smiled and made a so-so motion with her hand. “I am single-ish. Dating around. You know…”
I nodded. I did in fact know. Heh heh. “Yeah…me too. Well, Agatha, we should go out sometime.”
“Ok, sounds good,” she said.
Now this is actually a story about my phone, remember? So at that point, I whipped out my — not awesome Motorola dumbass flip phone.
I flipped it open.
Agatha’s eyes widened.
“WHAT IS THAT,” she said.
“Oh, it’s my phone, duh,” I replied.
“You have that…phone??” She took a step back like I had whipped out a bag of poo.
“Yeah, I mean, I love flip phones. I’m old school like that. It’s like classic retro, you know what I mean? Gimme a second here…” I gulped as I pushed the rock hard rubber buttons.
It was taking forever to get to the menus where you actually press in to add a person’s name and then press in to add their number. I fumbled the phone a little. I could sense the extreme break in the conversation. It became a wall of silence, pushing my future wife away from me. I saw Agatha tap her pink Nike foot once, then twice, impatient.
Shit, I had pressed the wrong button. I got to the phone settings menu instead. I pushed CLEAR.
My hot German girl looked around the room. It felt like all the conversation from the other tank-topped meatheads and yoga-pantsed gym babes had suddenly ceased. They were all waiting for me to get my damn phone straight.
Agatha cleared her throat. She said, “Why don’t you just look me up on Facebook?”
Oh my god, the dreaded Facebook add!!!
Once a girl proposes to “just” add you on Facebook, you are effing done. Game over.
“No no,” I said, “I got this!”
I got to the screen. Finally! “Okay, what’s your number?”
She sighed. She looked like she didn’t want to give it up anymore.
She gave it to me.
I punched the numbers in. Slowly. And then I punched the letters of her name in, cycling through letter after laborious letter, on my non-Qwerty keypad.
The conversations in the room started up again. The loud generic all-the-songs-sound-the-same gym dance music started blaring overhead again.
I wiped my lips with the back of my hand. “Cool, now I’ll call you and you’ll have my number.” I dialed her number. Waited.
Had she given me a fake number?
No, Agatha pulled her ringing phone out of her bra. “I got it,” she said, less than enthusiastically.
“You remember my name?”
“Rich,” she replied.
Time to get out of there.
“You like Laser Tag?” I asked her. I was taking a chance that she even knew what that was.
The hint of a smile came back to her face.
“I love Laser Tag.”
“Cool, I’ll take you to Laser Tag and I’ll blast your brains out.”
She laughed. “Okay! Cocky boy!” She seemed interested again. “So what are you doing in this town? What’s your purpose?” she asked me.
I hesitated. In a split second, I decided to find out what she was all about.
“I work for a non-profit,” I said. “People call me all day and I help them out with their bills and problems. It feels good to help people out, you know?”
Which was true. I sorta did that on my day job. It wasn’t a studio gig, that’s for sure.
Agatha did not look impressed at all.
She nodded. She said, “Okay. Nice to meet you, Rich.”
“Same. I’ll call ya.” I lied.
Agatha slipped her headphones back on and resumed stretching.
I put my awesome phone away. Reracked my weights. Headed up the stairs to the free weight area. Inside there, I deleted Agatha’s number.
I proceeded to have an awesome workout.
Being mad helps your workout so much.
Of course I never called her. I had forgotten that her number was still in my Dialed screen, but I never used it. Agatha never called me either. I guess the feeling of distaste was mutual.
Two weeks later, I traded in my piece of crap flip dumbphone for a brand spanking new space gray iPhone. And then I signed up for Tinder. But that’s a story for another day.
I’ll never forget the disgusted look on Agatha’s face when she saw me pull out my dumbphone. Sure, you can say that she was superficial, and an actress, and she was snobby and not worth knowing anyway. All quite true. But the truth is also that owning a flip phone is like going out on the town wearing clothes with holes in it. Wearing shoes that are black and crusted and 20 years old. It’s like driving a car with smoke spewing out the exhaust, that dies at every stop sign.
The day I bought that smartphone, I became normal. I joined civilization. I think some birds chirped.
My greatest accomplishment this year – yeah!
Happy 2015, everyone!