It's the familiar pandemic dilemma. On the one hand, you want to say yes to all those video chats, to see each other's faces and feel the lukewarmth of pseudo-human connection. On the other hand, you haven't showered in about three weeks, and seeing how long you can keep that streak going is the only short-term goal you have left. If only there were a perfect excuse not to show your face on calls without the current trend of being treated as suspicious as a serial killer during a police interrogation refusing to take off his skin mask.
Soon, there will be once again. After taking a brief forty-year sabbatical, screenless, cam-less rotary phones might be making a comeback. The rotary cellphone, created by space engineer and old-timey inventor Justine Haupt, is a portable, pocket-friendly version of the lumbering beast your grandfather would smash into the receiver every time an encyclopedia salesman called during suppertime.
Of course, this updated version does offer some modern comforts, like a sliver e-paper on the back for storing numbers on so you don't have to lug around your Rolodex, an SD card slot and an improved 4G connection -- because if a rotary phone needs anything it's future-proofing. And while the original model was only available as a 3D-printer blueprint for personal assembly, popular demand has led Haupt to start production of a commercial model to be released by fall 2020. By that time, we'll all be so sick of solitarily staring at our screens the idea of fingering some telephone holes to hear someone whisper "ahoy-hoy" will seem utterly tantalizing.
But why not, say, use the regular call function on your smartphone or even dust off your old Nokia? As Haupt puts it on her website: "The point isn't to be anachronistic. It's to show that it's possible to have a perfectly usable phone that goes as far from having a touchscreen as I can imagine." Using the rotary cell phone isn't an affection, but a lifestyle change, a much-needed shift in the endlessly samey screen staring days of our current lives. Of course, anyone born after the fall of the Berlin Wall will first need to figure out how to use such a binary artifact (no shame in that). Luckily, the Golden Age of Hollywood has provided some very enlightening instructional short films which used to be played in cinemas. (Remember when those existed?).
Now, did I just recommend you watch several films to explain the one-and-a-half step of "turn finger clockwise, then let go?" Of course! What better way to introduce you to that #rotatrycellphonelife, the intentionally slow-as-molasses experience that will turn you into a retro-futuristic '50s homemaker, endlessly dishing in the kitchen in your anime dressing gown while chain-vaping and twirling a 3D printed curly cord? And who knows, ditching the screen for the dial may even add a fresh perspective on your current long social distance relationships -- mostly by making you reconsider your affection for people with too many 9s and 0s in their numbers.
For more weird tangents, you can call Cedric on 09-999-000-99 -- or you can just follow him on Twitter.
Top Image: Sky's Edge/Justine Haupt