We live in an age of everyday marvels. Witness this recent scene: in a laundromat early one Sunday morning, while their clothes are in the wash, an immigrant family --- father, two boys, and tiny daughter --- all sit on the floor forming a circle, legs outstretched. In the middle of them is a cellphone, lying on its curved back.

The little girl reaches out and gives it a quick twist. It spins ... slows ... and finally stops, antenna stub pointing at the dad. The kids shriek in joy; the father pretends to be miffed and scoots back out of the circle, leaving the three children to close ranks and twirl the phone again. Next a boy is eliminated, and in the final round the girl goes, leaving the Grand Winner who grins to the applause of his family.

Everybody now forms a ring again, only this time the rules are modified so that it takes two picks by the cellular phone to knock out a player. Then further complexities are added: people begin to enter and leave the circle during a round, until from my vantage point nearby I can't figure out the pattern of comings and goings.

They all have a good time while their laundry is washing. Eventually the children tire of the game, so the father picks up his telephone and makes a call. He doesn't seem to speak English, but his kids are fluent in multiple languages.

What a spectacle: telecommunications technology has become so rugged and inexpensive (these don't appear to be wealthy people) that a computer-controlled voice-compression frequency-hopping transceiver unit can serve double duty as a spinner in a family pastime. Oh, technology!

TopicSociety - TopicRecreation - 2002-03-01

And, of course, should the hi-tech side of our applicances and gadgets fail, this sort of family pastime function will be the one that survives and keeps people from discarding the items :)

(correlates: DeepSympathies, MagneticStuds, FamilyHierarchies, ...)