During a recent trip to Southern Illinois, Sherman and I were talking about mobile phones in their early years.

Some of you may not know that back in the day, a cell phone required a battery the size of a small suitcase, and due to the expense, calls were quick. Available talk time was a mere half-hour, and it took 10 hours for the battery to charge. There was also some modicum of privacy, because the phones were used only in the car.

The mobile phone as we know it was launched in the United States in 1983. Over time, these convenient devices have eliminated the privacy of many conversations that should have been private.

I don’t make many resolutions for a new year, but this year I decided that I would make at least one resolution that I could keep: I promise and resolve that I will not answer my phone while doing my business in a bathroom, public or private. You can trust that if you are calling me, I will not be in a bathroom stall when I answer.

I’m willing to extend this resolution to not answering my phone while in a restaurant, at the grocery store checkout, at Dunkin’ Donuts, during sex or any other place that puts the general public (or my partner) in proximity of my discussion with my doctor, lawyer, accountant or dentist.

My experience has proven that most of the time, I have failed at resolutions. But now I know that they should be formulated so that you can succeed at what you resolve. They should be realistic and they should not require a stay in rehab or prescription drugs. (One of my last and arguably best resolutions was to learn how to wipe my ass with my left hand rather than my right, in case I had an accident that rendered my right hand useless.)

But at a time when we are bombarded with other people’s conversations in public, I am confident I can keep this resolution. There seem to be no limits on what people will talk about while at the coffee bar, on the bus, in line at the bathroom or in the bathroom stall.

For example, I can now be called as a material witness to “Rhoda’s” divorce, because I know she was unfaithful to her husband, “Glenn.” She told her sister, and because her sister and I were sitting side by side, she also said as much to me.

I overheard a college-aged man telling his buddy that “yeah, she a skank.” Then he called the skank and invited her to have
a beer.

I understand that the woman behind me at Dunkin’ Donuts had her daughter take a pregnancy test before she would give the daughter the BMW she had promised.

And, while waiting to board the subway, I heard a man tell his wife that 12/21/2012 was the end of the world and that he didn’t make the house payment … just in case.

Take heart, though —at least you won’t be hearing these things from me in the bathroom.

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