This week, a media friend on Facebook shared a magazine article that listed “25 Obnoxious or Contemptible Things You Probably Do.” I didn’t have time to explore it, but I did.
Thankfully, this magazine is thoughtful enough to show all 25 things on one web page, instead of showing the first one and then making you click the “next” button 25 times. That practice is among the 25 obnoxious or contemptible things that websites probably do.
Before I brag about how well I did against this list, because I did pretty well, let me explain that it targets men much younger than I am. Therefore, I’m not exposed to several things on it. I’m talking about things like “singing indie songs at karaoke” and “grunting while doing arm curls,” neither of which applies to me. I don’t sing karaoke, I’m not sure I would recognize an indie song if I heard one, and I don’t do arm curls. More exercise is a good idea, however.
I can’t honestly “brag about not having cable” either, another one on the list, because I do have cable.
There is one more qualifier, especially for readers who search for this article online. The story’s headline doesn’t actually say “obnoxious” or “contemptible.” Those are synonyms for the single word of slang that was actually used. It’s an adjective derived from a word for personal hygiene, but I’m not comfortable using here.
It’s a word whose connotation for me is more like “uncool,” which doesn’t quite rise to the level of “obnoxious” or “contemptible,” but those are the words the dictionary offers as its definition.
To help you refine your search for the story, if you’re so inclined, the magazine’s focus is on men’s health. Those two words might even be in the name of the magazine.
Given that a few of the things on the list don’t even apply, my scorecard found I do only two of the things on this list of 25. Both involve cellular telephones. I’m tempted to mark myself down by only one-and-a-half, though, because I’ve been willfully working to avoid one of them.
That one would be texting — or using the cell phone for any purpose — during dinner. The article said “during a date,” but for my wife and me, it’s the same thing — even when with friends.
The other thing is one I’ve been guilty of for several years. It’s wearing a cell phone holster.
OK, I can accept that hip guys don’t do that. Does that mean I’m not hip? You don’t have to answer; just quit laughing.
I noticed this article was first published three years ago, so it’s probably out-of-date. I have no problem with that, because “out-of-date” is the story of my current existence.
As mentioned above, I still have cable television. I have a couple of VCRs. I even have CDs, and cassette and eight-track tapes. And while I do have a cell phone, I keep a landline as well, which I actually prefer.
Sometimes, when I give someone my phone number, they recognize the prefix as a landline, and ask for a cell phone number too, just in case they “need to reach me in a hurry.” I’ve concluded that I don’t use my cell phone the way others do. You are more likely to reach me on the landline than on my cell phone, if you’re in a hurry or not. I have a cell phone for my convenience, not the convenience of others.
Still, there are times when I do need to have that cell phone close at hand because I’m out-and-about or traveling, and want it in case of an emergency. The issue becomes, how is that best accomplished?
When working fulltime, I could slip the cell phone into an inner pocket in my sport coat or suit. In retirement, my attire is casual, and storing it in my shirt or pants pocket is uncomfortable. The holster is the ideal solution. But apparently, in the eyes of the younger generation, or at least the author of this article, doing so is like that word I won’t mention, defined as being “obnoxious” or “contemptible.”
It’s apparently the contemporary equivalent of sporting a shirt pocket protector when I was young.
The alternatives for me are carrying a man-purse, or canceling the cell phone altogether. I’m not adverse to the first one, although I’m already lugging a camera bag often enough. The second option becomes more appealing every day. Is not being instantly available to the rest of the world 24 hours a day “obnoxious” or “contemptible”?
If so, make it No. 26 on the list.
On second thought, let’s instead make No. 26 being concerned about what websites say you what you shouldn’t do in order to be in step with what’s happening now. If my generation taught us anything, it’s that you should chart your own course, and be your own person.
That was back Pepsi-Cola urged us to be young and fair and debonair. Now, we’re just old and square and losing our hair, but we at least we really own it.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.