Our old mobile phones

Before I start today’s extremely nostalgic post, two things!

1) I have finally learned how to go about adding links to posts. Yes, as you may have already gathered, I am not net savvy. But I will be revisiting old posts and making those really really long web addresses I included in them into links, which will make this blog a little more legit. If you are one of those wonderful people who “follow” me or have subscribed to The Handbook, I apologise if you get updates about every trivial revision I make (and there are many). If you are one of those people but don’t get any updates at all, I have heard that The Handbook’s “subscribe” button is wonky, and that will be next on my to-learn-how-to-fix list. If you aren’t subscribed to The Handbook, then you suck, and you should subscribe.

2) A good friend yesterday emailed a bunch of us (we have a mailing list of about 8 girls, friends since those good old high school days, which is what this post is mostly about) saying, and I paraphrase, “thanks to Bobo’s last blog [post] I learnt about Pitchfork which led me to this great playlist – been rocking it at work all day.” See how The Bobo Handbook can improve your life in tangible ways? I’ll include the link to the Pitchfork.com playlist (because now I know how to do that!!!!) but I can’t guarantee it’ll be to everyone’s liking.

And now, let’s talk about our old mobile phones.

Around 4 am this morning, I was awoken by a huge coughing fit. The culprit? My lungs. Often, after a cold, I fall victim to lung infections of varying intensities, and that auxiliary affliction after the fact is one of the main reasons I abhor falling ill. But, like any sensible person whose body in some way or other prevents her from falling back asleep, I whipped out my tablet for some quality reading for a couple of hours.

By that I mean I signed onto Reddit, also known as “The Front Page of the Internet.” Like I said above, I’m not  net savvy, but I do like coming across funny random content and photos of cute and cuddly animals. If you’ve never heard of Reddit before, well, before I roll my eyes at you (again) and wonder what sort of Internet Quarantine Site you’ve been sequestered in since 2009, I’ll say that that’s exactly the best place to go for that sort of thing. I could write a whole post lauding (hours and hours of fun!) and lambasting (remember when they wrongfully accused an innocent college kid of being tied to the Boston Marathon bombing last spring and he committed suicide in a fit of despair–or was he killed?) Reddit as an institution, it’s best described as a Reader’s Digest of the Internet.

Now you’ve been alerted to the magic of Reddit, I’ll let you in on the fact that most of the fun happens in the comments associated with the posts, rather than the posts themselves. And it was through the comments of the top post early this morning that my attention was called to the extreme lengths that some schools would go to to control the conduct of their students on campus. Such as removing the doors on the bathroom stalls. But being a bit of a girl, the tale of a Pennsylvania middle school’s attempt to ban girls from wearing Ugg boots because they afforded them a space to smuggle in contraband items, namely their mobile phones, was the only story I kind of related to.

Well, for one, the school I attended would never, ever dream of removing our bathroom mirrors — looking good (or attempting to — I can’t say the styles that were prevalent while I was in school contributed in any way to us looking good) was a big part of being a teenager. Then, the idea of actually removing the doors off the bathroom stalls seems to be in contravention of a basic human right — the right to excrete with some modicum of privacy. I remember how horrified I was of even making a tinkling sound when I peed in the school toilets if any other girl happened to be around. Time spent sharing a communal bathroom with 5 other girls at university quickly cured me of my preoccupation with such piddling embarrassments (pun very much intended!). But even my present shameless self would be horrified by the idea of doing my business in a public bathroom without a door, so you can imagine how tortuous that would be for my hopelessly bashful high school persona.

Then of course, the story mentions Uggs. Oh man. Uggs. I could devote a whole other post just to those boots and all of the spin-off/copy-cat products they’ve inspired. But to keep it brief and to the point, Uggs are very, very controversial among men and women alike. Even I have mixed feelings about them — they’re incredibly warm and comfortable, yet I find them hideous and they’re not that great in the snow; some of their products, like the Ugg Scuffettes II or their mittens are genuinely on my wish-list; and if you happen to be a Kiwi or Australian surfer, you will look awesome in them. They’ve been around since the 1960s, but I recall when they first burst into my line of vision — I was at college, and I think I was about a year or two in. We had just gotten over the mukluk trend of the the previous winter. I thought, surely, surely, some sort of sensible, attractive, waterproof footwear will be coming into fashion.

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This guy looks pretty cool.

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Remember the mukluk trend?

Suddenly, everywhere, all around me, the girls were rocking these massive Smurf boots in tan and brown. They wore them with jeans mini-skirts and tight Abercrombie & Fitch sweaters. They wore them with Victoria’s Secret (and A&F) sweat pants. They wore them with their jeans. They wore them during all seasons, despite how un-cold it happened to be at the time. Even now, with Uggs having firmly established themselves as a winter footwear staple for women the world over, you still find some trigger-happy Uggers donning their fluffy boot waaaaay ahead of time. This year I saw girls wearing Uggs in late August — crazy!

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Down with this sort of thing!

But enough about Uggs. What really hit my nostalgia button when I read the story was that teenagers today were doing exactly what my friends and I did back in the day — play with their mobile phones during class. Well, today’s mobile phones are a little more injurious to the classroom environment: countless social media apps can connect you with your peers at the touch of the screen — affording young students instant access to the gossip mill, the bread and butter of the near-constant drama that makes up  high school social life; unlimited internet browsing capabilities, which usually engenders an unhealthy reliance on Wikipedia (I know that I suffer from this, and you probably do too); and of course, entertainment in the form of videos, music and games as fast as your 3G network can get you there.

When I was in high school most of us didn’t have mobile phones. I was one of the few that did. To be honest, out of all of my friends, I was the first one with a mobile phone. My parents set me up with a Nokia banana phone. The first time my friends became aware of my new gadget, I got a lot of flak for being a spoiled brat. Over our pizzas at Milano’s, I tried to explain that the only reason I had it was because Mama Bobo and Baba Bobo were incredibly paranoid parents that wanted to be appraised of my whereabouts at all times. Really, it was almost like one of those bracelets with tracing devices attached to it that they stick on people under house arrest or on parole. I was teased mercilessly nonetheless. In about two months, everyone present at that outing had been outfitted with a brand new cellular device, I think much to their individual delight.

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My first mobile phone ever — the Nokia “banana phone”

But unlike today’s teens, our old mobile phones, albeit somewhat distracting, were endearingly primitive. In terms of social connectivity, the best I could do was send off one text message to one person at a time. Of course, there was a phase during which I would text with a classmate of mine during history class (sorry Mr. Brian Ellis!), I’m not sure exactly what about. Then there was the near-constant texting I would engage in once I got home from school in the evening. I would hunch over my desk, ostensibly studying for chemistry whenever the Parents Bobo checked in on me, but I would fire off at least one text every 3 minutes. My father was horrified when he received my phone bills, and confounded by how much texting one teenage girl could do.

In my defence, my parents, apprehensive of how little studying I seemed to be doing and keenly aware that I would be applying to universities soon, had revoked my phone privileges. Where previously I had been able to have an hour and a half-long conversation with Bag Whore, a quick 30 minute chat with Former Candy-Crusher, and a 55 minute chin-wag with Liverpool-Dwelling Dentist, friends who dialled me were consistently told that “Bobo was not home.” When clearly, Bobo was home. Because what else would she be doing?

Where else could I turn to give vent to that perpetual stream of chatter that runs through most teenage girls, but my trusty, concealable, and readily accessible mobile phone?

Internet browsing and email? Well, there was none to speak of. No, no, if I wanted to connect to the internet, I would have to perch at our chunky desktop (invariably in a shade of cream that turned to a nasty grey with grime and use) and dial up via our ancient modem — a piece of technology whose slowness and ineffectuality now seems very comical but then was a vehicle of wonderment and delight. And oh, my rage at having my session on hotmail interrupted by a pesky call — we should have never gotten call-waiting!

Videos? Music? HA! We didn’t even get cameras on our phones till I went to university! As the proud owner of Nokia mobile phone however — at that point the clear leader in mobile technology — I did posses at my fingertips the ultimate mobile gaming experience.

You know what I’m talking about.

That’s right.

Snake, bitches.

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Hours of non-stop entertainment and frustration.