Lori Borgman finds the funny in ev­ery­day life, writ­ing from the heartland of the US. Now, if she could just find her car keys…

Friday - - Humour -

Iam miss­ing wit to­day. Not mine – that train left the sta­tion long ago – but the wit of oth­ers. I miss hear­ing friendly ban­ter, lively repar­tee and the clever twist of a phrase. There’s a play­ful­ness to con­ver­sa­tion that is slowly dis­ap­pear­ing. But then con­ver­sa­tion it­self is dis­ap­pear­ing.

There is a grow­ing brevity to our con­ver­sa­tions to­day. They tend to be con­densed. Tele­graphic. We’re all in a hurry, mul­ti­task­ing. It’s not easy do­ing six things at once and none of them well.

It’s nearly an im­po­si­tion to ask for some­one’s time and pres­ence. Plus, who needs a face-to-face when you’ve prob­a­bly al­ready cov­ered the nuts and bolts of what you needed to say in an email, Face­book mes­sage or text. Or an emoji. Or a com­bi­na­tion thereof. ‘Happy An­niver­sary. I (heart) you.’ Check and done. But con­ver­sa­tion isn’t al­ways about need; some­times it’s about de­light.

As we were led to our seats at a res­tau­rant, we passed an al­cove with low lights, beau­ti­ful decor and four dif­fer­ent cou­ples seated at ta­bles for two. Three of the four cou­ples were ra­di­ant – bask­ing in the glow of their cell phones.

The fourth cou­ple wasn’t on elec­tronic de­vices but they looked as dull and glazed over as the cou­ples on their cells. Maybe they were lament­ing hav­ing left their phones at home.

I’ve never un­der­stood why peo­ple make plans with some­one, clean up, drive to a mu­tu­ally agreed-upon place and then ig­nore one an­other and in­ter­act with oth­ers through cy­berspace. There was a time a wo­man would have walked out on a man for ask­ing her to din­ner, then spend­ing the evening ig­nor­ing her and talk­ing to some­one else.

I was at a deli where a two-year-old was on her mother’s cell phone while the mother and grand­mother ate and talked. Oc­ca­sion­ally the child would grunt, thrust the phone at her mother and the mother would re­trieve the de­sired screen for the child. When it was time to leave, the tot screeched, re­fus­ing to re­lin­quish the phone. The mother pleaded and ca­joled, then pulled out the big guns: ‘Give me that phone or you can’t watch car­toons when we get home!’

I won­dered if any­one ever talked to the child or if she sim­ply moved from one screen to an­other all day. In some cor­ners, even con­vers­ing with one’s child has gone from a plea­sure to a duty.

I grew up in a fam­ily of talk­ers, as did the hus­band. Both sets of par­ents of­ten had friends over for the evening, to have din­ner, play cards or sim­ply sit out­side on

It’s nearly an im­po­si­tion to ask for some­one’s time and PRES­ENCE. Plus, who needs a FACE-TO-FACE when you’ve al­ready cov­ered the nuts and bolts of what you needed to say in a Face­book mes­sage, text or EMO­JIS

a warm night with a cool drink and talk. And talk and laugh, and tease and talk and make jokes, and talk some more long after we’d been sent to bed for the night.

I’d lie awake lis­ten­ing, think­ing what grown-up fun that must be to talk and laugh with your friends long after dark. I thought to my­self, “I’ll do that some­day”.’

We do. But not as of­ten as we once did.

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