I have a good phone, but I don’t ask much of it. I’m sure it’s plenty capable. I imagine it could land a lunar module or call in a drone attack if I asked it to, and shoot me fifteen recipes for the Apocalypse just on a hunch. I’m also sure it goes on the cloud at night and makes fun of me to all the other phones. Mostly I use it for texting people. Once I discovered the little sucker takes better photos than any camera I have ever owned, I started doing that. And of course I have my Merlin Bird ID app because I simply can’t hear a Bewick’s wren enough times to recognize it.

I’m not real good at texting though, which is annoying for this crackerjack typist. I see people’s thumbs flying on those little buttons faster than a spider wraps a fly and although I suspect they’re being wieldy with the predictive text, it still floors me. By comparison I have all the manual dexterity of a T. rex. Plus it was a lot of trouble to put in the punctuation and such and I owe it to my tribe—the Sisterhood of the Old Fussypantses—to get it right. I don’t judge other people’s texts but if I send out a flawed text, why, I might as well spend the rest of the day running with scissors and sassing grownups.

That’s why I didn’t use the dictation option, which would otherwise be a good plan for someone of my limited skill. And then my friend told me I could dictate the punctuation too. I tried it out and it worked great. Once I figured out I had to say “She’s on her period period” to get it to come out right, I was golden. Still, I don’t use it much. I think I’ve always known it could be trouble.

So the other day I was walking with Dave when I got a text from a friend. She wanted to introduce me to someone. I wanted to reply but couldn’t walk and text at the same time, so I hit the little microphone dealie. What I dictated was “What’s her name?” Just before I popped it into the ether I noticed my text said “What’s your name?” Which is creepy. I mean, I might as well have typed “You so pretty. Can we friend?”

So I turned to Dave and said “I was just trying to dictate…” and stopped when I noticed it was still listening to me and THAT text was in there. “Jesus Christ!” I said in exasperation. And there it was, I swear to God, my sent text in a protective bubble:


It is possible I am not who this technology was designed for. It is possible I should be restricted to a quill-pen and a pounce-pot and if I have a message that requires more urgency I can holler into the night like Paul Revere.

Anyway, I also don’t know from Bluetooth. I’m not going to walk down the street talking to invisible people like a whackadoodle, My technology is simpler. The other day when I was wearing pants with no pockets I discovered I could jam my phone into my bra. I figured it out on my own even though this is ancient technology known to legions of grandmas who stow their hankies and pin money in their underwear. There’s plenty of room up top since the cup occupants have sought lower ground. I could put a Princess Phone in there and nobody would be the wiser as long as the curly cord wasn’t hanging out. What could go wrong?

Well. Nothing, except that the first time a passerby hailed me from the sidewalk and I stood up from weeding, something shook loose in that thing and suddenly my breasts went brrrrrrr twik twik twika toWEEE, trr titititititititi! Loud, too. If I had a cone bra, they could have heard it a block away.

My victim couldn’t help himself. He stared at my chest and said “What is that?” Hey, I wasn’t expecting it either. And it was still going off.

“I think it’s a song sparrow,” I said after a moment, as he executed a polite retreat.

Sometimes that Merlin app tells you more than you even needed to know. But like a bird on an underwire, I have tried in my way to be hands-free.