Friday, March 04, 2005

When I moved to Sweden some six years ago, I was surprised to find that cell phones were ubiquitous. They weren't nearly as popular in the States at that time. In fact, people were still using pagers. (Does anyone use pagers anymore?)

Then, after a couple of months on the job here, I was offered a free cell phone at work. Stupidly, I balked at the thought of being always reachable. But only for a month or so. Within half a year of arriving in this country, I had joined the rest of Swedish society, from 10-year-olds to the most ancient of great-great grandmothers.

What I liked best about the phone was that I could program it to play my very own song as the ring tone. I sat, punching in buttons until I got a nice approximation of the opening phrase of Domenico Scarlatti's Sonata in g minor, K. 450, the keypad substituting poorly for a keyboard: creativity reduced down about as far as it will go. But better than nothing.

Since that first phone, I've programmed the same tune into two succeeding phones. But with everyone younger than 35 having more or less real music as their ring tones, and everyone over 35 eschewing ring tones for the much more polite vibrate signal, which can only be felt by the person holding the phone, I know I'm on the wrong side whichever way you look by keeping this quirky little ring tone. Even if it does somehow makes people la-la-la along with it more than any other tune I've ever heard coming from a cell phone.

(I think my favorite thing about it is that I always fumble with the phone and never get it on the first ring, so it repeats the little phrase, just as it is repeated in the original music, a stupid private joke that pleases me, for no reason at all.)

So, now that my trusty 68i seems to be in need of a trade-in, the question is: Will I still be able to program twinkly, tinny, electronic-y Scarlatti into whatever phone I can get these days?

The Swedish phrase for the day is lämna ett meddelande. It means leave a message.

- by Francis S.

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