I am not one to long for big ideas gone. I don’t stare at old movies and listen to older music wishing for the thrilling days of yesteryear to return. I do, however, find myself often thinking about the small parts of life that have evaporated into the atmosphere leaving not a trace, but a memory.
These are the days that call for the return of the slam and snuff.
I’d like to end just one more conversation by a slamming a phone into its cradle. It’s a move forgotten by most and completely unknown to the wireless generation.
Before Steve Jobs attached a small case letter “i” in front of everyday objects, the telephone was a stay-at-home, two-piece device. The handset attached to the cradle, or body, via an umbilical cord. At the end of each conversation, a person could merely replace the handset into its cradle and that action disconnected you from your party.
How you replaced that handset into that cradle said a lot about you and what kinds of conversation had just taken place.
I was raised in a house where the phone was slammed, repeatedly, during a time when hanging up on someone meant something. Both ends felt it. There was a physical, meaty sensation felt from ramming that hard resin hand piece into its receiver, cutting off all further contact with your party. The Bakelite plastic body would creak and moan. In response, the little bells hidden within the phone cradle would ring and whimper.
The sound, seared into my brain, remains imbedded. I sometimes hear it when people curse.
The second action I’d like to see return from the dead is the snuff.
The snuff is the act of putting your cigarette out. After a last puff, the smoker grinds the stub of a Marlboro (or other brand of his choice) into the ashtray, rocking it from side to side, pushing down on the butt until all life is extinguished.
Just like Smokey Bear always said.
Some people (cool people) would emphasize an important point of conversation by pointing the lighted cigarette at the listener, making a bold proclamation, then snuffing his cigarette as an emphatic period.
“I’ll tell you what,” the smoker would say, pointing the red ash at his bar buddy. “Ain’t nobody throws like Bradshaw.” He would then snuff his Kool (or other brand of his choice) into the ashtray.
The real cool people would make their point, drop their butt into the floor, then dance the twist on it with their shoe while pointing with an index finger.
The slam and the snuff.
So much more effective than “unfriending” someone.