I don’t mind going to theaters alone, except for now. The two ladies sitting to my right are taking pictures and drinking eighteen-dollar wine from theater-regulated Sippy Cups. The lady beside me holds her phone two feet from her face with a furrowed brow. I feel her faux, cheetah-print coat spilling onto my side of the chair as she leans over the armrest between us.
“I have a question. Can I sort my pictures by location? Like, can I find all the photos I’ve ever taken in New York City?”
This happens to me all the time. I’m in my twenties, so I must be everyone’s tech support. Though, unfortunately, I can’t tell the difference between Android and Apple and discussions about the Cloud make me sweat. Absurd, I think to myself. If you want to organize your photos, place them into shoe boxes and store them on the top shelf in your guest bedroom closet.
Sensing she must be more knowledgeable than I am, I respond, “Yes, you can.”
She continues to stare at me, waiting for me to explain more, but the lights dim, and the show starts.
Leaving the matinée, I walk through Time Square and pass a woman standing between her sons in front of M&M World, posing while her husband takes a picture. She says, “Honey, ask her to take it!”
I’m selected out of a significant crowd of people, and I know why. I fake a smile as he hands me the phone. He would have done a wonderful job, I think to myself. His eyes are direct. His hands look steady and strong, like a carpenter’s.
I take the picture, return the phone, and start walking as fast as I can so I won’t be around to see their appraisal of my work. I can’t bear it.
That night I pick up my dad from the airport after his business trip in Seattle. He says he hasn’t had real food in three days and asks me if I want to grab dinner at a new Italian place in lower Manhattan. Standing outside my apartment, ready to leave, I look at my dad, and he looks at me. He clearly doesn’t know how to get there. Come on Dad. Just pull out your phone. Lead us there! Please! I don’t know North from South, and you fixed compasses in the military! Come on, please, please…
But, alas, I am a millennial with Google Maps. I pull out my phone and direct us five blocks in the wrong direction, then lead us three locks in the other wrong direction, before I get my bearings.
The next day is a workday. I’m sitting in the card room of The Upper East Side Retirement Home, and I have just interrupted a game of bridge to hand Doris her medication. Her phone rings. I jump, and the other women roll their eyes. Dorris’s phone is always ringing. This time her granddaughter is FaceTime-ing her.
“She does this once a week. Could you answer it?” she says as she quickly takes her pills.
I pick up Doris’s phone from the card table. Looking at my anxious face on the screen, I feel forced to admit my ineptitude.
“I’ve actually never used FaceTime,” I say.
With a mouthful of pills, an annoyed Dorries insists, “All you have to do is press answer and hold the phone out from your face.”
The phone continues to ring, and my nerves grow. Staring at my own face feels like staring into the sun.
“But why is my face showing on the screen? Shouldn’t it be your granddaughter’s?”
Dorris splits her pills onto the card table, causing some of the other women to moan and throw down their cards.
“That’s because you haven’t answered it, yet, dingus. Hand it over.”
With that, Doris answers the phone. As she talks to her granddaughter, Doris ascends into her doting grandma glow, while I sit there, a dingus.