How times have changed! Back in the day, a man could count on a phallic symbol to look like a phallic symbol. BIG! When a phallic symbol was BIG, you could fool yourself into believing that your monster-truck would fool the girls as well. ("So, was it good for you, honey?" . . ."What, what was good for me?")
Today, with the arrival of the 3-ounce cell-phone, too darn small to serve as a phallic symbol, but smart enough to voice-dial Achamelesh CherqosE while trolling out a decent Samba, gone are the days of BIG, the proverbial phallic symbol, mTs. When a man finds himself bragging about "how small," even if he's only referring to his phone, your old-school insecurities, your deep-seated anxieties are safe no more. How topsy-turvy inante, g'zE yemayameTaw yelE! . . .When, in a peculiar post-modern twist, a man gets caught in the throes of modern-day device-envy as opposed to time-honored penis-envy and finds himself wallowing in digital depression for want of small instead of in genital depression for want of BIG, well, . .kediTu wedemaTu! Obscurum per obscurius! Whatchugonnado? In the new Millennium, small is in vogue like never before. The hottest item is the coolest item, and cool is small. Small, as in your buddy's pint-sized cell-phone, ergonomically correct with its amber-lit screen and cutting-edge technology; Web-access and PC-sync software, PDA and a currency converter, organizer and interactive games! . . . . .Eshiiiiii ?!
Despite your disinclination to join the craze, you did take notice when your buddy took to flaunting the high-end features of his phone, and true to your Ityo-genetic predilection to fukikir, you too went out and bought you one. When your buddy bought, you bought, because you done bought into that game of one-upmanship you could ill-afford to lose; and so you bought when your buddy bought even if you could ill-afford to buy. And so it was that you joined the gang of cell-ebrities, that company of men known as "the foqaqoch," who spent their days with tiny phones glued to their ears as they shifted from spot to spot like the nitwit in the commercial: "Can you hear me now?"(foqeq) "Can you hear me now?"(foqeq) "Can you hear me now?" . . . "Eshi ahunisss?"(foqeq) . . .It wasn't long then before you too, now a contemporary man, a con-man of temporary chic, took to gloating about a phone, which clowned on your ass left and right with impractical antics you didn't need, while dropping the few cherished calls you did. Unlike your modern hipster friend, however, you skipped over the telling detail that you were still to figure out the details. And so, with every passing day, your so passé psychodrama of BIG-and-gaudy phallic symbols made way for a more trendy mania, a phon-e-menon known as phone-y psychotech: emotional distress caused by a profoundly overoptimistic assessment of one's capacity to unravel the mysteries of a high-tech doodad.
Your buddy, of course, had conquered his psychotech . . .or so he would have you believe. He knew that you knew that he had not, because all of the cell-ective stuff he knew, you knew too, which wasn't much as knowing went! The evidence emerged when, as a natural outgrowth of his zebenaysation, he resolved to break with years of Ityo-convention and plan for future security by investing in the stock-market which, of course, he'd keep track of using his futuristic phone. Hah! Trapped in a losing battle with a defiant gadget, he was on the verge of losing it when, in a lose-lose proposition, he finally happened on his one-and-only stock, which was . .er . . a losing stock by then. The one time that his phone delivered, it was to deliver the crushing merdo that he had lost it all! Boy, did he lose it then! That fateful evening, he sat at the bar nursing a shot of Black Label, from the looks of things his last, and decried a system that would blind-side him like that! He, the quintessential hard-working immigrant, a tax-payer, and a citizen to boot for fairness' sake, who had dared to wager on the evenhandedness of the system! To no one in particular, he mumbled under his breath: "Indihma ayareguNm!" What did HE have to do with quirky accounting, secret partnerships and cooking the doggone books? "IndE? Aaaaand cooking minamn yelem! Qeldun titew genzebEn yamTu!"
Indet tedergo? He had done it all by the book iko! On the advice of Richard, a trusted co-working ferenj (your buddy be-fildu new miseraw) he had done all of his research before he had made his inauspicious move. He had even signed up for the korss, a seminar on "Taking Stock of your Finances" for the token sum of $499; all of a two-hour seminar, where successful corporate-types, out of sheer sense of altruism and the goodness of their hearts, had divulged the closely-held secrets of prosperity. "Wall Street, the Road to Financial Independence," the glossy booklet had read. Running sideways along the edge, the catch-all phrase "It's there for the taking" had adorned the slick brochure in handsome script referring to the seminar itself. Your buddy, of course, had thought they were talking about the money! He was gonna take the korss and then he was gonna take the money! And why not? It was there for the taking!
Having gained full insight into the dynamics of the market, thanks to the seminar, he had then taken to preaching to yager-lijoch of less complexity, urging them to part with their antediluvian ways and break into the fertile system. "Stand for something or fall for anything," he had said. "Hmmmm," yager-lijoch-of-less-complexity had buzzed in unison, "you can say THAT again!" Awed by his self-acknowledged wisdom, he had then topped off his unsolicited presentation with a smug "korsun wesijalehu" followed by a small yetekurarch snicker! And so, . . he had defiantly gone on to switch from fail-safe iqub, which he used to “drop” in prudent AmariNa, to foolhardy port-fool-io, which would drop on his ass in brutally fearsome English. Of course, the seminar had painstakingly fleshed out the concept of “boom and bust,” but . . but they had done it all in complex English, ay yAmerika giff ! He had been so convinced that . . boom! He was gonna make a killing, and bust out quick! But, . . boom! . .Was he quickly busted!
If only he had listened to his wife, as savvy as she was in matters of the market. Sure, her forewarning had been a tad bit unorthodox, but her "analysis" had been right on the mark. She had had one of them . . .qiZet, in which she had seen the signs of an impending doom as clearly as if she had read the stock-report: "biqeribih new mishalew," she had urged her undaunted husband: "tiniiish koda neger yizeh d'ldiy sitishager aychalehu." That was it! No Bull, no Bear and no Ken Lay in her qiZet. Just koda! . .koda and a bridge over troubled waters!
You too had your own Mrs. Warren Buffet, who kept you out of uncharted waters. Unlike your cocky friend, however, you paid heed to your wife's qiZet! How could you not? Here was a woman, who had such a gift of qiZet, she was capable of qiZet within a qiZet to illuminate the first qiZet, sort of a follow-up qiZet. She was so good at the qiZet, she could have a sequel to someone else's qiZet, like the one she had had to the koda-qiZet: "teTenqeq," she had said: "bidir liTeyiqih yimeTal !" And, how could she have been sure that your buddy would ask you for a loan? Easy! She had seen him in her qiZet, . . . bado massero teshekmo sinkeratet ! . . . . . "Issu gn," she had then added as an aside: "man abatu qumar teCHawet alew?"
And so, while your buddy was engaged in looking up a stock that was no longer there, your conquest of psychotech began and ended with "My Tones," a musical feature on your sexy cell-phone, which called up a long-held tizita. There it was, a digital rendition of an all-time favorite, “New Wei Lnileyai, the mother of all heartwarming songs blaring out of your little phone. You played it, and you played it again; and for Auld time's sake (Sam) you played it one more time, . . at all hours of the day . .and all over creation, you sure enough played it. Down at the mall too, walking side-by-side with your debonair bud, you played your Auld Lang Syne. . infuriating your patrician friend as you sang along in loud and clear AmariNa, which could be misconstrued as terrifying ArebiNa and thus, hereabouts, a veeery-not-gooood-idea these days! But, look, he was the reason you got the darn phone in the first place. Now that you had it, you figured you would exercise your options, just like he had exercised his stock-options, tsk. demo yenidetu gagata!
You: DagmeeeeNa lememTaaaat inkwan tesffa saynorennnn, mTs, mTs!
He: Ere benatih ante Fara atitfabiN!
P! . . .gureNa! What did he know anyway of the dazzling imagery that "New Wei Lnileyai " called forth? Imagery of confetti and T'rumba of New Year's Celebration at Indayqeribin Abesha Restaurant? . . He had been at that other event . . in the corporate-suite of a downtown private club where, dashing in his rented get-up, he had been stressing over "getting" a myriad of ferenj jokes . . .getting a hearty laugh out of a joke he hadn't gotten. He had mingled in a crowd of silicon, false bottoms, liposuction and Fifth-Amendment-pleading-corporate-cut-throats, a gathering where gender lines were blurred and penis-envious wives had carried on like macho men, while their androgynous husbands had tried to act like the macho men their wives had acted like.
Meanwhile, over at "Indayqeribin Abesha Restaurant," . . .minutes away fromY2K, Not-Applicable-Abesha had come out in hordes to celebrate that other Not-Applicable-gudai, the New Millennium. Y'all had looked soooo cool donning party-hats of cylindrical shape and psychedelic brilliance, sort of gubbb-ing like a funnel on top of your big heads, lastik straps disappearing deep into your double-chins. Midre-gregarious-Abesha had cheerfully blown your eyes out through unjustly narrow party-horns leaving midre-Abesha winded . .gasping for air, while refusing to give a tune. As aliens engaged in alien shenanigans so often tended to do, blame had quickly been ascribed to the party-horns themselves. "Ayseraaam! . . .Ere fishkaw ayseram!" As the minutes had ticked away and midnight had approached, a desperate "ayseraaaam" had reverberated through the room. After all, how in God's name could you ring in a whoooole new Millennium with your fishka ayseram? IndEEEE? . .It had never crossed your minds, of course, that the miskeen fishka was never meant to respond favorably to a stream of spit discharged into it in rapid succession through the ET version of blowing. " iffffffffffffff. . .inhale . . .iffffff!"
But gashE had saved the day. Of all people gathered there, he had figured out the horn! A warm round of applause for his ingenuity. Wow! gashE, . .sew siTala astaraqi! Shoving his hod into the crowd, he had proudly tooted along, grandstanding to a spellbound audience. "Qelal new, iyiw iyiw," he would demonstrate to the down-home-girls, a couple of "inconspicuous" ladies in a remote corner of the room, where they had quietly reeked of goremssa as they had sat there sweating up a storm into their hot and heavy sweaters; Kirissmas sweaters, RED, with synthetic poinsettias artfully attached to misaligned shoulder-pads. "Firrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr," and red-hot down-home-girls, out of deference to gashE's status, his former self of sew-siTala-astaraqi, would humor him with the obligatory alarm: "woyneeee, ere benaaaatih, asdenegeTkeN!" Self-satisfied, gashE would then walk away wearing a sheepish grin! . . .Sure enough, gashE had had his detractors. Shuruba-Z! His baggy pants down to his ankles, he had exposed the crack of hairy buttocks. In one hand, Shuruba-Z had grabbed his crotch to revive whatever flaccid little there . . .had shrunk into oblivion, while with the other hand, he had stabbed the air in front of him as he had hollered across the room: "Yo, yo, Dog! What's up with Pops? Y'know wha' I'm sayin'?"
Lilly, too, had weighed in as gashE's nemesis. "Wui sidebirrrrrrr," had escaped her glossy lips as she had witnessed his antics. Lavishly made-up Lilly, who must have been soooo profoundly engrossed in the all-consuming ritual of making-up her face, which had failed to make her face, that she had left her yiluNta behind along with her under-garment! Lilly of Los Angeles . .where, on Sunset Boulevard her youth had expired while she had waited to be discovered. . .by Hollywood, mTs. She had finally had to move, because she had at the end been discovered!
And so, that New Year's Eve, she had re-invented herself on a bar-stool at Indayqeribin Abesha Restaurant. Flawless English flowing from her flirty lips, she had narrated to men of little or no frame-of-reference, men of iqub and senbetE, stories of bungee-jumping, the titillation of risk-taking and the highs of thrill-seeking; tales of oxygen bars and cyber-virtual-love-making spun in expensive English peppered with exotic French. Mesmerized men of little or no frame-of-reference, timid men of precautious upbringing from Qebena to PopolarE had nodded in agreement even as they themselves had been the objects of her sardonic digs. BeshornE, they had thrown a slanting glance towards each other, as if to say to each other: "aderahin atasTeTa!" And so, in the interest of alemasTeTat, they had been quick to agree with every word she had uttered. ( Lilly: "C'est magnifique, non?" . . .Agreement: "No!" . . Lilly: "Don't you mean 'yes' ?" . . Agreement: "Yessss!" . . .Lilly: "Ha ha ha, y'all so cooool." . . . .Agreement (Yogi Bera): "LilliyE, you ain't so hot yourself !")
Ahhhh, Lillysha, the ultra-faddish trendsetter! Femme fatale had swaggered in decked out in a stealthy dress, a micromini so micromini, now you saw it now you didn't. Across the great divide of civilization, a safe distance from down home girls, she had brandished a pair of legs, which bore the mark of ItyoPiawinet; . . .Ityo-leg-acy, a leg-endary scourge! But, . . .you had to give it to Lillysha! (igrE qeCHin indesessa, libE mulu inde Ambessa.) Unlike her ET-sisters, who would know to keep "things" under wraps as they would saunter down many a sandy beach qiiq-b’lew in their l-o-n-g and woolen pants even in the dog-days of summer months, a hundred degrees in the shade, there Ambessit had been flaunting her Ityo-leg-acy in the dead of the arctic season!
As for her pair of hamstring-straining pumps, lean and narrow, on feet that were not so lean and narrow, ouch, if you had asked whose pointy pumps those were, without the slightest pause, Lilly would have shot back: "But, of course, they're Ferragamos! " But of course they are, silly you! The same question posed to her counterparts, sweet-sweat-soaked-down-home-girls with beads of sweat trickling down their unexfoliated faces, wEyne gudachew, would likely have elicited an indignant response: "But of course, they're MINE! mn lemalet feligeh new gn?" And, . . to their never-ending task they would have turned. With forceful vengeance, bare hands would come-a-wringing . . . clearing perspiration from forehead down to chin until the next spell hit. Then would come a small complaint about the heating system at Indayqeribin Restaurant: "mn ale lijE kontatorEwn biqenissut?"
Wow! Memories of New Year's past! Poignant moments of love, tenderness and stolen kisses, of Ferragamo and Poinsettias flooding back through your Lilliputian phone. "New Wei Lnileyai, mTs!" . . .Overwhelmed by pomp and circumstance and the goodwill that the moment had engendered you too had your own laisser aller moment and had forgotten your good manners. Right at the stroke of midnight, just like in the grand movies of old, you had dared to kiss your wife . . . for all Abesha to see . .in full view of a gawking public, and . . ON THE LIPS, of course! Gudih! You had then passionately told her how much you really loved her! Awwwwwwwww! And, . . to your passionate declaration of a passionate love, she had passionately responded with her own passionate "QlEtam!" . . . .WoynE! New Millennium or not, how naïve it had been that you had thought "qlEtam" would have stayed home, where "qlEtam" had belonged. As an esteemed member of a happy threesome, "qlEtam" had forever dwelled in the inner sanctum of your bedroom, where "qlEtam" had been in charge of turning out the lights. An eternal love-triangle: "You, Your Wife and QlEtam," a lop-sided menage-a-troi, where your wife and Ato QlEtam had successfully connived to keep your Marquis-de-sid behind in check. On those rare occasions that your wife would submit to the modErn practice of leaving on the lights, wouldn't you know it, there "qlEtam" would be . .with an amendment to her benign consent: "Toooolo get under the heavy covers, . . .quick!"
You could, of course, have turned to one of two respected elders to intercede on your behalf and talk sense into your wife and her partner "qlEtam." Abba was one of them, but it was seriously doubtful that "he" would have gotten you the desired result since "he," by a jealous God, had eunichly been endowed to serve God and God alone, and thus would have known nothing about the desires of the flesh. And that would have left you with gashE, sew siTala astaraqi, a throwback to your father's time, newly of the fishka-fame. Over the years, gashE had honed his counseling skills by employing a technique unknown to modern therapists, a highly effective method, which shamed you into a resolution. It was a technique known simply as "meqoTat," whereby wrongdoer and wronged were summarily rebuked, but seldom on the facts. "Antem tew antem tew, beqa!" It amounted to a little more than "STOP!" When gashE said for you to "stop," you had to go ahead and stop! You were the obvious victim with nothing at all to stop? Tough luck! You had to stop it anyway! Aleqeh! Besides, don't let the fishka fool you! gashE was the archetype of all things Abesha, a diehard weg-aTbaqi, who had no tolerance for chic outside age-old Abechic. So, even if you had had the audacity to complain to him about your wife and “qlEtam”, he would have looked at you askance before rebuking your modern self with a well-placed, uh, . . . you guessed it: "qlEtam!"
Faced with the same predicament, your buddy would have known how to better deal with it. Lucky dog he, he had a plan in place for all sorts of contingencies! . . . He had once been embarrassed by his own wayward kids, juvenile delinquents they, who had had the bad taste of speaking AmariNa to a couple of Amhara-types, his friends. Oh, what a letdown that had been! That's when he had issued a decree to the entire household: "ke today jemro, Ingi-lish only in ziss house, demo Fara yimesil!" See? He always had the answers! . .Soon, as a by-product of the " Ingi-lish only" dictum, the kids' proficiency had shown a discernible step up. Good old Dad! Thanks to their interaction with their "linguistic" Dad, the kids had finally picked up on the finer subtleties of the Ingi-lish language! They had then gone to school and told their friends: " Saturday, Saturday, we do major major ting-ss around the house, and when it gets dark we use a battry!"
If your zebenay-bud were faced with "lights-out and qlEtam," ever so resourceful, he would have consulted his able therapist, a credentialed man, who had made it his life's mission to fail his every marriage and thus spoke from experience with six botched unions under his belt. It had been on his urging that your buddy had once planned a night out with his wife. His therapist had spoken of the untold wonders that a change of scenery would bring, and so, a stone’s throw away from the house they called home, your buddy had reserved a magnificent suite. Every minute detail had been meticulously worked out. Rose-petals, champagne, body-fragrance and muziqa! . . .Sadly, mTs, it had all fizzled out! Once again, that irgum therapist had been derelict in his counseling duties. He had told the couple to get away from home without telling them to leave THEMSELVES behind!! . .The pressures of modern life! The need to spruce up a libido that don't need no sprucing up, the stress of cultured thinking that "good enough" ain't good enough no more. Shoot, ere temesgen for lights-out and qlEtam! . .Kiffu zemen, where love-making is made into a scheduled "session" held in a rented suite where, gudikonew, it is. . . .videotaped, because you'd have to see it if you are to believe that that was you who did it! An age, where your cell-ebrated phone figures prominently in driving your sex-drive as you drive along the Urban(e) Drive, driven by cell-acious talk that's enough to drive you(r) nuts!
In the days of old, a phone was accorded its proper deference . . for the status-symbol that it was. It sat there in your house attached to a visible chord, a chord plugged firmly in the wall! You had to have a house before you could have a phone, and not every kutara could blabber up a storm regardless of his whereabouts. And, . .whenever you used your phone, you used it with dignity. You sang about it delightfully, wistfully:
"beslk anegagreN beqeCHinu shbooo,
beslk anegagreN beqeCHinu shbooo,
tzita indemeTa deribo derarbooo!"
mTs! How times have changed! Often, . .you are reminded of the phone in the home of your youth. That tarikawi phone which, throughout your childhood years just sat there all chained-up, a huge pad-lock dangling from its side; an august piece of modernity which, through its presence in your home, made all conceivable statements, except make the sound that it was made to make! On those few occasions that it actually rang, there was a strict ETquette to be followed in answering it, and only your Mother was trusted to do it right.
Step1: Knock down everything in your path including your children to get to ringing phone.
Step2: C-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y remove the delicately embroidered dantEl draped over ringing phone, lest your movement interfere with the ringing.
Step3: Stand over phone hand at the ready and exactly two inches from receiver. Don't touch! Not yet! Esti atinqelqel!
Step4: Allow phone to ring not three, and certainly not five, but four times.
Step5: With one hand on hip, pick up receiver and say "yellllowwwwwmanlibeeel?" in the same breath and in your phone-voice please, which is different from your natural voice.
Step6: Alternate between listening and speaking. Adera, lehulum g'zE alew. When it's your turn to speak, hold earpiece away from ear and speak your piece into mouthpiece. Now, go back to listening.
Step7: Say "tesastewal" and hang up quickly. It's a ploy by Telecommission to run up your charges.
Step8: Self-satisfied, walk away at a brisk pace berating Telecommission: "lEboch! zrfia new indE yeteyazew zendro?"
Calling out? Sorry, it didn't happen! Your mother was not about to break with age-old tradition and call Gash' Alemu on the phone when it was just as easy to send Banchirgu over to him to deliver the message . .in person. "mamshaw’n dewililiyN-iiiiiiiiiiii !" Tsk! And, when mamshaw’n would usher in a rare and cherished ring by the tarikawi phone, children would know to flee in a hasty panic . . .ahead of the stampede, a one-Mother-stampede, making a mad dash towards the ringing phone, where she would work her way through the mandatory steps to the all-important, "yellllowwwwmanlibeeeel?!" Then would come the easy part, "tesastewal," . . . followed by the coup de grace, "lEboch!"
Mother, . . .later that mamshawn: "InnE mlew, ya Alemu dewililiN biyE melikt b’likibet, issu slk yasgebaw legura new indE?" . . .
Gura? . .You called it gura, Mommy Dearest? Oh, how right you are! By Jove, how right you are, yenE inat! In modern times, it would come to be known as a phallic symbol.