Good Stories , or I Lost My IPHONE

02:11

Mywritinglife1.1 Esther Cohen teaches Good Stories at Manhattanville College. She’s the author of 5 books, including Book Doctor, Don’t Mind Me And Other Jewish Lies, and God is a Tree. Her last post was about Watch Repair and Other Sources of Inspiration.

“A real writer is always shifting, and changing, and searching.”   

                                                                                                     - JAMES BALDWIN


This week’s good story (I hope good is the right word – it’s a story anyway) is about losing my IPhone. I am not a techie. I don’t (this is a confession) actually know how to turn on my new big flat screen tv. Although my husband’s given me lessons. As readers of this column may remember, I write with a pen, in a notebook. But the IPhone, a gift from my husband a year ago this December, transcended my fear of Cuisinarts, new televisions, and other familiar equipment. I fell in love with my IPhone on site. It is beautiful. And I even played my first ever game (is it a video game, if it’s on the IPhone? Maybe.): skeeball.
 
So when I lost my IPhone last week, it seemed a little, like losing a child. I felt I lost everything: my dates, drafts of poems, my small beautiful office, scores of notes and dates and addresses. The weekend before, I’d bought a third world IPhone case, a beautiful piece of embroidered Peruvian cloth, with bright blue beads on the strap. My phone was in my case when I lost it. I didn’t know what to do, so I googled online: What Do You Do If you Lose Your IPhone. The answers were not satisfying. Nothing clear.
 
I started calling my own number, frantically. Hearing my own message. I called half a dozen times over the course of an hour. The sixth time, a man answered with this perfect sentence: Is This Your IPhone? For one minute, I was completely thrilled. YES I shouted. Where are you? I will come there immediately. I’m on Central Park West, he replied. But I’ll come to you. Give me your address. I found it on the corner of Columbus and 77th. On the street. Do you live nearby?
 
That made me nervous. Who was he? I didn’t want him here. Even with my IPhone. I’ll meet you on the corner in front of Isabella’s Restaurant, I said, trying not to sound apprehensive. But I was. And I wasn’t quite sure why. He had my IPhone. I wanted it back. That’s all that mattered.
 
I stood in front of Isabella’s Restaurant, one of those chopped salad places, and as if in slow motion, every conceivable odd human being walked by me: an old homeless guy who looked kind but crazy, a man pushing a shopping cart filled to the top with pieces of cloth, a hip hop teenager, two men who had the Sopranos gait. Everytime someone walked passed me I wondered Does He Have My IPhone? Was it a scam? Did he want money for my phone?
 
I had a twenty dollar bill in my hand. Waiting was one of those interminable times (it could have been l5 minutes, or 20. No more.) A man walked up to me in Comme des Garcon clothes. Beautiful, expensive, French-Japanese. He had one of those incredible noses that you’d paint if you were a painter. Thin, long, wide. He looked wildly successful, artistic, worldly, handsome. And he had my IPhone.
 
I like strangers, and always have. I like meeting people on planes, in foreign countries, in cities I’m visiting for business. I like to hear the details of life, and as WEbook readers know, I like Good Stories most of all. Many of my best stories came from strangers. We are freer with one another, sometimes, to tell a good story. Especially if we know we’ll never see one another, again.
 
“You look like your case” said the stranger.
 
There are some sentences that seem innocent enough. And some just don’t.
I wanted to run away, but not before I’d secured my IPhone.
 
He handed it over, and I said, Can I give you the case, to thank you? Oh no, he said. It’s clearly yours. I don’t suppose you want $20? I asked. He was clearly prosperous. Successful, not nearly as in need of the $20 as I was. Or the many people who might have had my phone, who’d walked down the street before him.
 
Where are you going? he asked. And I who don’t drink beer, who have literally never bought beer in my life, said, I’m walking down the street to the supermarket. They sell cheap beer.
 
Thanks, I added, in a far more cursory way than I felt. HE RESCUED MY IPHONE AND GAVE IT BACK. Still, I left very quickly. Thinking to myself: At least this was a story. Maybe even a good one.”What about you, WEbook friends? What are your good stories this week?

Yours on the web,
 
Esther

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3 comments

  1. Arbuthnot Sandoval24 December 2009 at 02:32

    I lose my cellphone in my house all the time. Usually it's on "vibrate" so it can be a trick to find. Of course it would be unsettling to find it with a stranger attached.
    I find myself at a loss vis-a-vis your tale. The odd part is your nervousness with this particular person. I suppose you have to trust your instincts. Nothing objectively seemed to shout, "Mad Killer!" or even "Scam Artist." And yet, most unusually, you were moved to shed this person without exploring his own story at all. I guess you will just have to discover, in the new year, if you have reached your fill of strangers and their tales...
    Good luck. And Happy New Year.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Arbuthnot: Thanks for your comment. I wish Iknew why this made me so nervous. He was neither a MAD KILLER or a SCAM ARTIST. Still he was unsettling. I wish I knew why. Maybe I'll uncover the reason, in the New Year. Happy New Year to you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The odd part is your nervousness with this particular person. I suppose you have to trust your instincts. Nothing objectively seemed to shout, "Mad Killer!" or even "Scam Artist." And yet, most unusually, you were moved to shed this person without exploring his own story at all.

    ReplyDelete

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