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WRY TOAST: Hold the phone, mom ‘CAn text’



IF YOU FELT a disturbance in The Force on Aug. 16 at 4:36 p.m., your Spidey sense—conveniently enabled by Verizon’s 4G network—was spot-on.

At that exact moment, I received the following text message on my cellphone: I CAn text.

The surplus of capital letters should in no way diminish the historical significance of my mother’s accomplishment in sending it.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty much the 21st-century equivalent of “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you,” Alexander Graham Bell’s historic telephone message to assistant Thomas Watson—who I believe responded with, “In a minute. Thomas Edison and I are playing Words With Friends, and it’s my turn.”

My mother has owned a cellphone for probably eight or nine years, strictly “for emergencies,” like when she’s in the car, hears something on sports talk radio that runs counter to her fundamentalist hockey beliefs and needs to call the station immediately to give them a piece of her mind.

In the last year or so, she’s learned to read text messages from her friends, but prior to last week, she’d never attempted to type and send one.

Then, on Aug. 16, she bought an iPhone and, after a 3½-hour tutorial from a 9-year-old store employee, sent her first text message.

Sigh. It seems like only yesterday that I took the training wheels off her Facebook page. Now, she’s LOLing in real time with all her BFFs.

What’s more shocking is that my father, who would rather surgically remove his own spleen with a dull cream cheese spreader than carry a cellphone, appears to be jumping on the iBandwagon with my mother.

“Your father’s getting an iPad,” my mother told me when I called to congratulate her on the successful launch and landing of her first text.

“Oh my God, my father’s getting an iPad,” I relayed to my husband.

He looked confused.

“Why does your dad need an eye patch?” he asked, probably because my father masquerading as a pirate is far more believable than my father investing in top-of-the-line electronics.

This is the same man who refused to buy a microwave for his family because being able to bake a potato in under three hours was unnatural.

The same man who wouldn’t purchase an answering machine—remember those?—because having one defeated the purpose of not being home to answer a call he never wanted in the first place.

The same man who insisted his family of tennis fans didn’t need a new TV even though our fuzzy picture meant we couldn’t actually see the tennis ball in any of the matches we watched. Instead, we’d follow the action by listening for the sound of it hitting the players’ rackets.

“No,” I told my husband. “He’s getting an iPad. There must be a bird-watching app on it or he wouldn’t be interested.”

My father’s tech-savvy friend, Tom, spent about two hours with him earlier this week, walking him through the tablet’s operations.

I exchanged emails with my dad after the lesson, and it’s clear he’ll need a bit more training before he achieves Jedi status.

“He showed me several things. The only one I can do now that he’s gone is plug the &*%$* thing into the wall to charge it,” my dad said. “I think the left side of my brain made promises the right side of my brain cannot keep.”

A few hours later, I checked in with him to see how the charging was going. By then, he’d managed to unplug it, but he couldn’t figure out how to turn the device off.

“Finally put it back in the box—face down. Figured if it could not see me (it has an “eye” that stares at you—kinda creepy) it would eventually go to sleep,” he said.

After all, he reasoned, that method had worked just fine with my brother and me when we were infants.

My mother, meanwhile, has fully embraced her membership in the iNation, posting messages on Facebook from her phone and sending text messages to all her friends—occasionally with a few extra capital letters thrown in for good measure.

Edie Gross: 540/374-5428