Saturday, September 16, 2006


Everywhere I go, I see people with their hands up to their ears. Their mouths moving. Everywhere. In the grocery, in the bookstore, driving their cars, walking or jogging. They all seem to be talking into their hands.

And there's others, increasing numbers, with shiny gagets stuck in their ears. Sometimes as they walk along or drive in their cars, they talk to the gadget. And sometimes not. But the gadget is always there, on standby, in case they want to talk to it.

Someday soon, a new thing will come along to replace the gadget in the hand and the one in the ear. The new thing will make the old things seem clunky and out of date, like windup phones. People will laugh to think how they once carried those old things hooked on their belts like oversized jackknives, or that they ever attached those other things to their ears and walked around looking like Martians. The new thing will be smaller and more cunning, about the size of a flea. And it will be surgically implanted in your head, about a quarter-inch from your eardrum.

Never again will you have to carry something in your hand or wear it on your ear. The flea will be on standby 24/7. And how will you answer it if it rings? Just by giving a slight tug on your earlobe. The way Carol Burnett used to do on her TV show back in the sixties. Remember—how she used to come out and talk to the audience, and she'd pull on her earlobe? It was her little trademark. It meant "I love you." Now it will become everyone's trademark. In the future, when you see someone pulling on their earlobe, it won't mean, "I love you." It will just mean they're answering their phone.

How much will it cost? Well, for the phone itself—around ten dollars. To have it implanted, about two grand. Then, forty or fifty bucks a month for the service. Will it be worth it? Of course it will be worth it! It's always worth it! Imagine something that goes with you everywhere, that you can never forget to take with you, anymore than you could forget your fingers or your toes. Can you take your old model swimming? Can you bathe with it? Certainly not. With the flea, you can swim, bathe, sky dive, wrestle, have sex, do whatever you want. Because the flea is safe in your head, like a thought or a dream. And being so near the eardrum means that the voices and sounds that come through it will not be much louder than a whisper. Or about like someone praying at the back of a church.

Surely, you won't want to be one of those people still walking around with that thing attached to your belt or that other thing still stuck in your ear, while everyone else has evolved and moved on to the flea! Imagine how embarrassed you'd be in a room full of people quietly pulling on their earlobes, and just talking away, free, free, of all encumbrances, when suddenly, your old outdated model starts ringing, ringing, ringing!

Oh, there's one other thing I should mention. There will be something else that will come with your new phone in your head. Just a little something extra for no extra charge. Every flea will come equipped with a little program. A kind of mantra will speak inside your head, barely perceptible, like the whisper of the sea inside a conch. It will sound during the times when your phone's not in use, repeating over and over, all day and all night, waking and sleeping.

Just a word, or maybe two, a different mantra for every day in the week. So, on the first day, perhaps, your mantra will be these simple words, whispered over and over: "Coca Cola, Coca Cola, Coca Cola, Coca Cola. . . .' All day, all night, "Coca Cola, Coca Cola. . . ." If somebody calls, or if you call out, the mantra will stop. But as soon as the call ends, "Coca Cola, Coca Cola, Coca Cola."

At midnight, it will change, and in the morning, you'll wake up hearing this: "Exxon-Mobil, Exxon-Mobil, Exxon-Mobil. . . ." And the day after that, it will be "WalMart, WalMart, WalMart. . . ."

And the ones who plant the phones in our heads will be thinking about this: They will estimate that each mantra could be repeated up to fifty times per minute, or 3,000 times an hour, or 72,000 times in a day. That even if you subtract two hours of talk time, when the mantra is interrupted, that would still leave as many as sixty-six thousand repetitions over a 24-hour period. That if you multiplied that by the number of people with flea phones planted in their heads, the repetitions would be in the trillions, far surpassing anything ever conceived of by the soap sellers on TV.

So, as we continue to invade countries, as more and more human beings in foreign lands are smart bombed and cluster bombed and burned alive by white phosphorous, as they are raped and pillaged and massacred and driven from their homes, for their lands, for their oil, the voice in your head will drone on, repeating and repeating: "Halliburton, Halliburton, Halliburton, Halliburton. . . ."

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