Dial “M” for Maddening


Once upon a time long, long ago… there was the telephone.


It was a genteel instrument of communication on a rubberized spiral cord that appeared at restaurant tables only on rare occasion, accorded exclusively to A-list movie stars at The Polo Lounge, or if global crisis demanded it, the President of the United States.


Today, it is a plague on civilized society. This is an issue we must no longer sweep under the place mat like errant breadcrumbs.


Cell phone etiquette, especially in restaurants, is an oxymoron.


Pray tell, what is “smart” about a phone that destroys direct  human interaction?


Yes, the omnipresence of cellular technology is a curse on us poor fools who archaically cling to common courtesy.


Like the Hansen Writing Ball, the private conversation is a thing of the past.


We are now forced to be involved in mankind – often as voyeurs.


I am seated at a fine dining establishment with a business colleague or appealing social acquaintance. I am anticipating a pleasant experience. But, no! My companion brings out his “cell” and rudely starts chatting and/or texting God-Knows-What to God-Knows-Who.


This boorish behavior is both vexing and embarrassing. It is more irritating than bawling babies and cackling rug rats running amuck.


For God’s sake, if I wanted to cultivate bleeding ulcers and chronic acid reflux, I’d eat more meals at home with my disruptive brood (contentious spouse, raucous ankle-biters, yapping dog.)


I assume you, like me, resent this exasperating intrusion upon your sparkling repartee, communion with your cuisine, and supreme pleasure in your alcoholic beverage.


So, what’s a gentleman (or gentle lady) to do?


Protecting your sanity will no doubt be an onerous challenge in personal discipline and rage management.


First, you must quell that overwhelming urge to grasp your shrimp fork, pounce on the offender, and puncture him like an over-cooked rump roast.


You can stare daggers at him and try to tough it out, but beware of your blood pressure, as this strategy will further rankle your nerves.


Other suggestions:


Draw your electronic weapon of choice and immerse yourself in a lengthy game of Sudoku.


Lob buttered dinner rolls at the S.O.B.


Ask the waiter for crayons and summon your inner tyke.


Whip out the mint-flavored Glide and commence flossing.


Whistle an annoying tune. (Anything by Miley Cyrus will do.)


Create an explosive concoction with the condiments on the table.


Resist the tendency to transform your tedium into sexual fantasy, as you are most likely to become discombobulated and spill your cocktail all over your freshly pressed, linen pants.


Bellow statistics from the latest alarming study that closely links the use of cell phones, harmful radiation, and brain cancer.


If all else fails, request the manager post a warning that reads:


“The use of cell phones will result in their immediate confiscation and prompt annihilation in a ravenous wood chipper.”


And therefore never send to know for whom the cell tolls; it tolls for thee.