My buddy Michael has a malfunctioning cellphone; the microphone died awhile ago. He can hear other people's voices, but they cannot hear his. They can, however, hear the beep of his cellphone keys when he presses them. We have worked out an ingenious code, thus: "one beep yes" (which I think would be a brilliant band name); "two beeps no;" "three beeps fuck off;" and "four beeps other/ I don't know." It requires, of course, that his interlocuter frames everything as a yes/no question. A typical phonecall between us just occured:
I answer the phone, and seeing it is his cellphone on my call display, say, "Beep."
He beeps once in greeting.
"So are you joining me for the Chaplin film?"
"You're okay with the 7:15 showtime?"
It is now on me to figure out where and when we might meet, so that he can beep his assent or demurral. We must start by establishing his location. "Are you downtown?"
"Are you in the west end?"
"Are you getting food?"
I decide I don't really need to know what he's doing. "Do you want to meet here before the movie?" He lives four floors above me, so we tend to meet, if we're going out, at my place.
"Do you want to meet at 7?"
"Do you want to meet at 6:30?"
"Do you want to meet at 6?"
"Beep beep beep beep."
"Okay, I'm not going to bother with 6:15 and 6:45 or such. You don't know when you want to meet."
"Beep." (We follow the Japanese method of assent here - he agrees to my negative, rather than indicating that "No, he doesn't know," by beeping twice).
"We will meet whenever you get back to the building?"
"Sometime before 7."
"I'll see you here, then!"
If all cellphones were like this, they probably wouldn't annoy me as much.