DON’T ASK WHY- To reach my cell, dial h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e

Fine. I admit it: I am a hypocrite. I am now the owner of a brand new cell phone.

It’s not that I specifically went out and bought one. But just before my birthday, I started dropping subtle hints, which went something like this: “Can I get a cell phone for my birthday?”

And wouldn’t you know it, for my birthday, after tearing through about 50 sheets of tissue paper, I came to my new source of communication with anyone in the world: two tin cans attached via a string.

Ha ha, just kidding! What I actually found-and if you haven’t guessed by now, you have not been paying attention-was a cell phone.

The reason I am admitting to being a hypocrite is because I wrote a column several months ago, condemning my parents for both getting new cell phones.

My exact words were: “My parents, whom I had looked up to as role models until now, have just committed one of the most horrendous acts possible. My parents each have a new cell phone that is almost the size of a credit card, only thinner.”

In that column, my main objection to cell phones was that people who own them tend to be really annoying.

But now here I am, in possession of a phone about the size of a Chiclet. Every time I use it, I’m afraid that it’s going to fall down into my ear canal, and the only way to remove it would be through an intense, six-hour surgery, which would later be featured on an episode of Oprah, titled, “How my phone almost killed me.”

All kidding aside, though, I’m really starting to get paranoid at how my public cell phone usage will irritate those around me. Perhaps you think I’m a responsible kid. Perhaps you think I have enough social awareness that I won’t act stupid.

Perhaps there is a worm pooping on your nose.

OF COURSE I’m going to act like an idiot with my cell phone! I’m a teenager for Pete’s sake. Everyone knows-including us teenagers-that it’s genetically programmed into our brains to be jerks without realizing it.

All I know is that prior to opening my birthday present, I was a fairly well-adjusted guy who took into consideration how others viewed my actions. But once I opened that box, I was suddenly transported into the Wonderful Teenage Cell Phone World!

This is a magical kingdom, similar to Disneyland, only with better reception. Here, teenagers walk around all day, oblivious to anything around them, talking into, or staring intently at, their cell phone.

Before I became a bona fide cell-phone user, the whole “staring intently at” thing always bothered me. I would happen to glance over at someone I knew, and they would be sitting there, their shoulders slumped, gazing, spellbound, into their phone.

I always wondered if their phone had put them into some sort of trance-that at any moment, a voice from a mysterious caller would start directing them from the earpiece of the phone to do his corrupt deeds.

But now that I have my own cell phone, I have realized that, silly me, there are lots of things on there to keep me entertained. For example, in one sitting I spent over a half hour adding people to my contacts list.

On top of that, I also found I could personalize the background on my screen, change the welcome message and choose a ring tone from the cheesy, but wide, selection that came with my phone.

Needless to say, there’s lots of things to do on a cell phone, which is why it is not uncommon to see people walking down school hallways, staring at their phone as if at any moment it could jump up and bite them on the chin. (Some newer models can actually do that now.)

This was a problem last year, as cell phones were about as welcome in school as a cold sore is on a first date. Thankfully, under the new policy, students are now welcome to use their phones between classes, and even bring them into class, as long as they are turned off and put away.

This presents a problem, as remembering to turn off one’s cell phone requires brain activity, which, as we already established in this column, teenagers do not have. Thankfully, I think I may have solved this problem.

Thanks to my dad, who seems to be some sort of magnet for useless, trivial information, I recently read an article on the National Public Radio Web site that featured a new ring tone that teenagers can download. This ring tone is technically inaudible to adults.

The ring tone emits a high-toned frequency that most teenagers can hear, but not adults.

The Web site had a downloadable audio clip of this ring tone. When we played it, I could hear it, but my dad couldn’t. It was a very annoying and piercing sound, but if adults can’t hear it, I think I’ve solved the problem of cell phones being on in class.

However, once windows start cracking in the middle of class, teachers might begin to catch on.

Personally, I don’t intend to download that ring tone for my phone. I’m going to attempt to act like a normal, civilized human being, although it may be difficult.

So if you see me talking on my cell phone while I’m driving, please, feel free to run me off the road.

Don’t worry, I’d do the same for you.

* * *

UFO: Scientists say that the higher your I.Q. is, the more you dream. Richard Simmons must sleep really well.

Don’t ask why.

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