The Collector

People collect stamps. Stickers. Thimbles. Seashells. Antiques. Rocks in the shape of a heart. Little porcelain animals. Art. Legos.

Our fifteen-year-old son collects boxes. Specifically, the boxes that package Apple products.

“They’re really nice boxes,” he explained when I noticed his collection – all white with the Apple insignia – in his room.

This is not, apparently, a passing fancy. He’s been collecting them for a few years. I only noticed because they are now stacked on his desk. MacBook Pro, iPad Air, iPhone, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s. Even the little box an iPhone Lightning Dock came in.

“One day, these are going to be really valuable.”

But they’re boxes?!

“Yes… Apple boxes!”

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Battle of the Bands

Kids doing the dishes. Blasting music from an iPhone. Rocking to “All the Above.” Maino.

Dad enters. His iPhone overwhelms the airwaves with country. “Let Me See You Girl.”

Dishwashers switch it. “Hall of Fame.”

Dad. “May We All.” Country.

“Dad!” Kid dishwashers walk out. A labor strike.

Dad finishes the dishes, singing country alone. “Tennessee Whiskey.”

The seventh grader re-enters. Dishes are done. “This is terrible, Dad. You need to listen to real music.”

Dad acquiesces. “Closer.’ Chain Smokers.

The boys are back. Peace reigns.

The New “Cigarette”

I never found smoking appealing, even when the cool chicks in high school were smoking and drinking diet coke instead of eating lunch. Yes, they were cooler than me, but at what cost?! Skipping lunch?!

My father is a smoker, and I remember the 10-hour rides to Cape Cod in our Ford Torino station wagon (and later the Volvo), heading up 95 with the windows up (too hot without air conditioning) and him smoking the entire time. The cigarette smoke made me even more claustrophobic than sharing the backseat with my two sisters.

Cigarette smoke makes my eyes itch. It makes them water. It makes my throat hurt. I am the greatest fan of laws that forbid it in public places like restaurants and office buildings and bars.

Yet I have always envied smokers. Not because they look cool. They don’t. Not because I want to smoke. I don’t. I envy them because they have something to do with their hands. They have a surrogate (their cigarette) if their friend is late to the bar. Lighting it is perceived as being in the middle of a conversation.

The good news? The cigarette has been replaced.

Today, you don’t see people at parties dramatically taking a drag of their cigarette. You see them throwing their head back in a stylish laugh before responding to a text.

Yes, the Blackberry, Droid, iPhone is the new cigarette.

Remember standing outside in the snow with your smoker friends while they got their fix? Now, you stand outside with the cool kids making a phone call.

Remember watching that senior girl lift her cigarette gracefully in the air before dropping her head back and taking a sexy drag? Now, you envy her giggle and long, skinny, rapid texting fingers.

Remember wishing you could get close to that gorgeous guy, just by asking for a light? Now, you can ask how he likes his Droid. Or better still, you can text him from across the room and then smile flirtatiously.

The world has changed. And I am so grateful that there is a new “cigarette”.