Photo by Kozy
Photo by Kozy

Photo by Kozy

“You gotta see a picture of my Jimmy”

Warning! Showing me photos might cause harm to your cell phone

  I was invited to a cocktail party the other night at the home of a friend named Bob. He’s also a contractor who is helping us with our new kitchen. I went solo as my wife opted to stay home. The guests were strangers to me so I decided to mingle.

  My first conversation was with a woman named Trish. We exchanged pleasantries and other basic getting-acquainted stuff. I then asked a fateful question:

  “How many children do you have?”

  “We have two,” said Trish, suddenly excited. “But the big news is we had our first grandchild in October. His name is Jimmy.”

  Out came her cell phone, from where I’m not sure. Within seconds Trish was in my face with The Jimmy Slide Show and accompanying play-by-play:

  “Here’s Jimmy’s first tooth.”

  “Oh, and look at Jimmy eating a banana. That boy loves his bananas. He’s so cute.”

  I desperately looked for someone – anyone – to save me. Bob was busy. There was no one else.

  Trish soldiered on, paying no attention to my disinterest.

  “Look at Jimmy wearing the Mickey Mouse tee shirt I bought him.”

  A man approached us. He introduced himself as Don.

  “My husband,” Trish said.

  Don told Trish there was someone he wanted her to meet. Off they went.

  I wanted to kiss Don. Instead, I searched for a bathroom. Surprisingly, there was a short line. The guy in front of me said hello.

“I’m Al.”

  We chatted for a bit and then he asked: “Do you golf?”

  It seemed like a harmless question. I said I did.

  Mistake.

  “Hey,” he said, “I just returned from Pebble Beach where me and my golfing buddies played three straight days. Amazing place.”

  In one deft move Al lifted his cell phone out of his back right pocket and skillfully sliding his right forefinger across the screen took me on a hole-by-hole tour of the Pebble Beach course. By the third hole I was done. But Al kept scrolling, one hole after the other until, mercilessly, the bathroom emptied.

  “I’ll show you the rest of the pictures in a sec,” said Al, before he disappeared.

  No chance that was happening.  I slid out a door and into Bob’s front yard. I would have left but I wanted to ask him a question about the kitchen project. Soon I was joined by a party-goer out for a smoke.

  “Hi, I’m Susan,” she said.  “Bored?”

  “Nope. Just taking a break,” I said.

  We small-talked for a while. She then asked me what I did for a living. I told her I was in the visual arts.

  Another mistake.

  “Really!” she said. “I’ve just got into photography. Let me show you some of my pictures to see what you think.”

  This can’t be happening, I thought.

  But it was real. I marveled how Susan held her phone in her left hand and scrolled through her pictures – which were awful – with her other hand while holding her cigarette.

  The combination of picture overload from the past hour, inhaling Susan’s cigarette smoke and her nasal voice, which was as appealing as someone dragging their fingernails across a chalkboard, was too much, even for a normally chill guy like me.

  Without warning, I shocked both Susan and myself by grabbing her phone, pivoting to my right and tossing it into the evening’s twilight. We both tracked its path as it reached its peak before plummeting onto Haskins Street. At that moment a SUV with an unaware driver cruised by, ending any hope of the cell phone surviving.

  I looked at Susan and shrugged.

  “Sorry about that,” I said.

  Her response? She screamed. Loudly.

                                                                      ***

  The ride to the police station was uncomfortable. The squad car’s backseat was fine, but the handcuffs hurt my wrists and my left knee ached.

  Earlier, when officers Mulvaney and Price arrived at Bob’s house after a neighbor called 911, it appeared the crisis would be diffused when I apologized to Susan and agreed to replace her cell phone.

  Some of Bob’s guests wandered outside to see what was happening, my new friends Trish and Al among them. They were clueless about their role in my meltdown.

  The situation quickly regressed when Officer Mulvaney answered a call on his cell that excited him.

  “Really, honey?” I heard him say. “Send me the pictures.”

  Police protocol was placed on hold while Officer Mulvaney showed Officer Price one photo after another of Mulvaney’s daughter Veronica’s apparent success at her high school softball game that afternoon.

  “She’s something, isn’t she?” he said to his partner, who shook his head in agreement.

  I chimed in: “Excuse me officers, but apparently you have forgotten why we’re here today. Let me remind you.”

  Calmly, I grabbed Officer Mulvaney’s phone and heaved it on a similar trajectory to that of Susan’s 30 minutes earlier. The sound of the phone crashing to the street was masked by the crunching of my knee cap after a blow by Officer Mulvaney’s billy club.

  It was a quiet ride to Precinct 23.

                                                            ***

  At the station, there was no problem with the mug shots and fingerprinting. But when it came time to hand over my possessions to the inventory clerk, well, another situation developed.

  The officer in charge – O’Brien – was about to go off duty. His replacement, Officer Winston, pulled O’Brien aside. I heard Winston tell O’Brien: “We went fishin’ today. You should see what we caught?”

  “Pictures?” O’Brien asked.

  “Yep,” said Winston.

  Out came the cell phone. This time there was no announcement on my part. Bum knee be damned, I dove across the counter and was able to stretch just far enough to snatch the phone from a stunned Winston, who had just started his scrolling. I quickly retreated and turned the phone to a metal mess with one stomp of my right heel.

  The subsequent taser to my tummy, sending me to the floor, hurt like hell.

                                                             ***

  I was surprised the county jail had a psychiatric unit.

  After being processed, I sat on a tattered sofa with two other guys – Pete to my left, Ike on the right. They announced themselves as long-time friends.

  “Whaddya in here for?” I asked, trying to break the ice.

  “Murder,” said Pete, a thick, barrel-chested, heavily tattooed dude. The one on his bald head stood out: Try me.

  Said his pal Ike: “Armed robbery.” He was as thin as Pete was hefty but wore a frightening look that said: Don’t mess.

  “I meant why are you in the psych unit?”

  “Oh,” said Pete, clearly the smarter of the two. “Well, we’re a bit off and unpredictable. You?”

  “Multiple cell phones destruction,” I said.

  “That’s pretty funny,” Pete said.

  “Why?” I asked.

  “Because, Ike managed to sneak his cell in here. He can’t stand being away from his cats and he has pictures of them on his phone.”

  “How many cats?” I asked.

  “Not sure but more than 20,” said Pete. “He’ll show them to you.”

  “Sorry, I’m the last person you want to show phone pictures to.”

  “That was not an ask, pal,” Pete said. “Ike, show the man your cats.”

  Soon after, the three officers who entered the psych unit found me on top of Pete and Ike on top of both of us. I had managed to grab Ike’s cell phone and stash it in my pants. Aside from a broken nose and fractured left thumb, victory was mine.

                                                                 ***

  After the psych unit incident, I learned something else about the precinct’s jail: It had a solitary confinement cell.  Although I was in pain from my assorted injuries, I appreciated the silence as I attempted to process what had happened over the past three hours.

  I noticed I was still wearing my smart watch, apparently forgotten during the inventory incident.

  My watch phone beeped: It was my wife.

  “Hi honey,” she said. “It must be a good party.  I didn’t expect you to be gone so long.”

  “Well, it’s, ah, been an interesting evening. I’m not sure when I’ll be home.”

  “I’m glad you’re still there. I just texted Bob a bunch of photos of countertops I like and thought you could talk to him about it after he shows them to you on his phone.”

  I wanted to scream. Louder than Susan did when I tossed her phone. Instead, I remained silent.

  “Hello. Honey? Are you there?”

  Finally, I said: “I have a better idea.”

  “What’s that?”

  “Call our attorney.”

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