I sat in my mother's car, staring out the window at all the headstones. I thought of what mine would say in that little line too short to truly encapsulate a human."I hope mine says, 'he made people laugh,'" I suggested."What about, 'thank god that's over'?" my sister countered.
* * *Friday night, I flew to New Jersey for a college convention, and while waiting for my bags, I plugged my phone in to recharge it. Nothing.I didn't freak out right away. I tried removing and replacing the battery. I tried restarting it. I tried removing and replacing the battery while restarting it. Nothing. Then, I freaked out.I am attached to my cell phone. I never shut it off except when I'm on stage or asleep. I rue the times I am out of service. So much that I use the word "rue." Occasionally I'm in a situation where I can't answer it. But I am still comforted knowing someone is calling. I have not reset my phone book in the five and a half years I have had a cell phone. I have also not backed up my phone book, which is probably a ridiculously stupid idea on my part. But so was flying Southwest Airlines, and that didn't stop me. (I rue them, too).I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my phone. The light on my charger was on, so it was probably the battery or (gasp!) the phone itself. With 8 more months on my contract, I knew I wasn't getting a new phone anytime soon. This one needed to be fixed.I took the battery out again and looked at it, as if I'd be able to identify the problem."Oh, there it is! There's a tiny man dancing on one of the connecter pins! Now that I've shooed him away, it's time to get this baby charged!"I tried everything. I restarted it again, in case it didn't know it was being restarted the first few times. I even blew on it, Nintendo-style. If it worked for Contra, it'd work for Sprint. No luck. I was phoneless.I made whatever calls I needed to, which were all punctuated by my cries of "I gotta go , my phone is dying!" Then I shut it off to preserve the final 10 minutes of talk time. I had a busy weekend and I knew it'd be days before I could hit a Sprint store. There were definitely people I called earlier in the day that wouldn't have heard from me if I knew how little battery I had left. (Now I rue them, too.)I had a good convention otherwise, but spent most of it stressed about my phone. What if an agent was calling? What if a hot girl was calling? What if a hot girl agent was calling? Oh, the sheer possibilities of what I was missing drove me crazy. Even though I actually missed nothing.Sunday morning, I boarded a train to New York. I was going home, albeit for a few hours. My grandmother passed away over the summer, and Jewish tradition dictates a gathering at the graveside to unveil the headstone and say a few last words. I was glad I could be there, but stressed I couldn't make any calls. Between the train station and my mother's apartment, I borrowed the cab driver's phone to call my mother and tell her I was going to be able to make it after all. And I checked my messages just in case I missed any agents or hot girls.I arrived five minutes early, and stopped at Radio Shack to see if I could miraculously revive my phone. My now discontinued phone they weren't selling. As I began stressing more at this new piece of knowledge, the clerk offered to at least plug it in to see if it was the charger."It's not the charger," I said, before she showed me it was indeed the charger. I bought a new one and left for the apartment, much less stressed knowing that soon, I'd have phone service again.With my phone charging, I sat in my mother's car, staring out the window at all the headstones. I thought of what mine would say in that little line too short to truly encapsulate a human.After a brief exchange with my sister, my phone rang. Excited for who it could be, I picked up and got a telemarketer. Hanging up and looking back across the cemetery, I realized my headstone should say, "he missed the point." How ironic that I kept telling everyone that my phone was dying just before visiting the grave of my grandparents. I spent the weekend stressed about my messages when my mother did fine thinking about arrangements for her mother's headstone. I laughed aloud. Partly as a defense mechanism, and partly because I spend so much time writing about other people's stupidity, I often forget my own.Perhaps "he made people laugh," would be appropriate for my headstone. As long as it was followed by "especially himself."I unplugged my phone.Steve Hofstetter is the author of the Student Body Shots books, which are available at SteveHofstetter.com. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.