Maeve Higgins’s ideal . . . phone
I was in my room the other day, coming up with a new nickname for myself. I tinkered with a few alliterative ones (Movin’ Maeve, Maddog Maeve) before changing direction totally and settling on Marvel-Rat. There’s actually real significance to the words used there. I chose marvel because that’s what people automatically do when they see me dominate a party – be it foam or children’s. The rat part reflects my urban edginess and cute smile. Then I remembered that you can never truly give yourself a nickname. Poor old Marvel-Rat was crestfallen and decided instead to imagine the ideal mobile phone.
Everybody needs a gadget to peck at when they’re alone – mobile phones are smooth, flat companions that keep us from thinking too much. They bear witness to our fibs and exaggerations. They listen quietly to all our news and help us out when we’re lost. We need them, so the ideal phone must have a survival instinct. Too many of my past phones have leapt from great heights, flung themselves into the toilet or, tragically, concealed themselves in the dryer and been tumbled to death.
My dream phone will be shaped like a hamburger. This will discourage theft and make it easy to locate within my pineapple-shaped handbag. However, like all novelty accessories, it may make men think I’m a magic girl who can fix their lives through quirkiness, so I’ll have to be careful.
A phone should be smart, but not smart-alecky. Show me the way to the train station, by all means, but don’t you dare correct my pronunciation of the name St John. Sure, you have a camera function, but before you get ahead of yourself, remember that you still can’t toast pop-tarts or harvest eggs so you’re not all I need.
A great phone has various modes to switch between, depending on your life stage. Do you feel middle aged and invisible? Switch your phone to “Still Got It” and you’ll receive intermittent sexy messages (Love dat vest Pops) and suggestions for meeting people (Volunteer at your local hospice?) If you’ve recently been dumped, I’m sorry for your troubles. Consider installing the “Retain Some Measure of Dignity” mode – where, after midnight, the keypad will sense desperation and/or gin from your heartbroken fingertips and immediately switch itself off. I have come to accept that phones control people. Just like sugar being bad for me and Beyoncé being younger than me, it’s not nice to think about but it’s true. My dream phone is a benevolent master. It knows what’s best for me and can tell when I’m isolating myself. It emits gentle electrical currents that get stronger each time I miss an opportunity for genuine human interaction. Eventually, when a child tries to show me their painting or my father starts talking about his feelings or a sweet, sweet honey sits opposite me on the train, my dream phone will jolt me so painfully that I will drop it, and look up.