Why I'm calling you

December 15, 1993|By Art Buchwald

THE reason why some smart investors are putting their money into communications stocks is that they have discovered an unbelievable youth market exists for any device that will keep one teen-ager in touch with another.

I was made aware of this when I was in a restaurant the other day and in the next booth were two teen-agers.

On the table was a cellular phone, and the girls took turns talking into it while they ate.

I wasn't eavesdropping, but they were talking very loud.

One of the girls called John and told him where she was and that after her meal she was going over to Gloria's. John apparently told her that he would be at Boogie's and she could call him there on his beeper.

The other girl asked John if he knew George's beeper number. It seems that he didn't, but he suggested that she call Dave in his car. I said to one of them. "That cellular phone is a wonderful invention. Do all the kids have them?"

"No," the girl replied. "But everybody hopes to get one for Christmas."

The other girl said, "Most kids have beepers now, but a phone is much more convenient than a beeper for emergencies."

"What kind of emergency?"

"Well, suppose there's a party at Kenneth's house. No matter where we are someone can get through to us."

"I thought cellular phoning was very expensive."

"We don't pay for it. Our parents do."

"I never thought of that. You can probably call from here to Hong Kong and never see a bill."

"Our parents don't mind because a cellular phone lets them talk to us, which is something they can't do at home."

"Suppose your beeper goes off in the classroom?"

"It does often. We just excuse ourselves and make a phone call in the hall. If, on the other hand, we're in class and get a call, we can return it without leaving our seat."

I don't want you to think that this conversation was taking place uninterrupted. During the talk the girls were on the cellular phone touching base with friends all over D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Apparently, one call was from a boyfriend asking her what she was wearing. "I'm wearing a cashmere sweater, a plaid skirt and the pearl necklace you gave me for my birthday," the girl told him.

The other girl asked me. "How do you communicate with people?"

"Mostly on a pay phone," I told her.

"Oh, gross," she said.

"Do your children have a cellular phone?" her friend asked.

"No, they get messages on their answering machines."

"Heinous," she said. "They're in the Stone Age. How will they know where the best New Year's Eve party is without a beeper?"

"They'll probably have to wait for the mail to come."

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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