Please Don't Call Me
On the NannyPhone
by Mad Dog
phone will know if you’re too drunk to drive, need a breath mint or
three if you’re going to have any chance in hell of getting lucky, or
someone cut the cheese near your face, either the flatulent variety or
||If there’s one thing I
don’t want, it’s to be told by my telephone that I have bad breath.
A friend, okay. My girlfriend, sure. But my telephone? No thanks. It’s
bad enough it beeps every time I press a button, plays Do Ya Think
I’m Sexy when I get a call, and sounds like I’m about to be
beamed up, Scotty when I get a voicemail, I don’t need it telling me
that my breath smells like there’s been a re-enactment of the Civil
War in my mouth complete with cavalry horses and the stuff they leave
behind. But this will all change if the German company Siemens Mobile
has its way. Researchers there were so bored they actually created a
tiny sensor to put in a cell phone that will sniff out bad odors. Great.
According to a company spokeswoman,
the sensor "examines the air in the immediate vicinity for anything
from bad breath and alcohol to atmospheric gas levels." In other
words, it will know if you’re too drunk to drive, need a breath mint
or three if you’re going to have any chance in hell of getting lucky,
or someone cut the cheese near your face, either the flatulent variety
or the gorgonzola.
What they’re not saying is how this
information will be put to use. Will the phone pull an Ashcroft and rat
you out, telling the person you’re talking to that you have the breath
of a genuine, never-been-cleaned Woodstock vintage Porta-Potty being
sold on eBay? And if it does, what voice will it use? Will it sound like
Peewee Herman saying, “P-e-e-e-e-e YOU!” or will a smooth but
Tourettes-inflected voice say, “The person who called you from four ..
one ... five ... five ... five ... five ... two ... four ... five ...
eight is melting my circuits with her breath”? Besides, what good will
this information do and, to put it succinctly, who cares? If you need a
telephone to tell you something smells bad then maybe it’s time to
make an appointment to get your nose checked out. Face it, even the
remains of Michael Jackson’s sniffer can spot a Tic-Tac candidate from
one inch away.
Smell-O-Phone catches on it won’t be long before they release a whole
line of add-ons. There will be a sensor to let you know if you’ve had
too much to drink and you’re so off pitch at the karaoke bar that no
one can tell you’re singing Muskrat Love.
The next step will probably be to have the phone automatically
dispense a breath mint or squirt some Listerine into your mouth if it
detects morning breath. The problem is there are people like me who
would refill it with tequila. Of course that wouldn’t get me very far
since, if you remember, part of the plan is for the phone to detect
alcohol on the breath. The question is, if it does detect too much, what
will it do, call your car’s onboard computer and tell it not to start?
Dial your spouse and spill that you’re not in the late work meeting
you said you were? Maybe it will call 911 and report you. This, my
friends, is exactly what the world has been waiting for — the
It’s enough that cell phones
aren’t just phones anymore. They’re cameras, PDAs, emailers, and
mini-Gameboys, do they have to be pocket-police and mothers too? If
Alexander Graham Bell had intended the telephone to spy on us he would
have told Watson, “in loco parentis” instead of asking him to
“Come here. I want you to help me start a monopoly."
If the Siemens Smell-O-Phone catches
on it won’t be long before they release a whole line of add-ons. There
will be a sensor to let you know if you’ve had too much to drink and
you’re so off pitch at the karaoke bar that no one can tell you’re
singing Muskrat Love. For the fourth time. The Dandruff Detector
will go off at the first sign of flaking if you’re wearing black. Your
phone will signal you if your zipper is undone, your socks don’t match
your shirt, your deodorant is letting you down, or there’s toilet
paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe. It will let you know if you put
your foot in your mouth, differentiate between that and talking with
your mouth full, and should it actually be the former, let you know if
people would pass out were you to remove your shoes and socks.
feature will single-handedly cause a massive decrease in cell phone use
countered by a huge increase in letter writing.
Ultimately, they’ll release a lie detector upgrade that will
measure the stress in your voice and signal the person you’re talking
to if you’re not telling the truth, the whole truth, or even a teeny
tiny bit of the truth. Luckily it will work in both directions so
you’ll be able to tell the same thing about them. This feature will
single-handedly cause a massive decrease in cell phone use countered by
a huge increase in letter writing. The resulting stamp sales boom will
pump tons of money into the Treasury and we’ll see a thriving economy
unlike any we’ve had since, well, before the current president took
office. Not to mention there will be peace and quiet in restaurants, on
the street, and on public transportation as people quietly scribble with
pens instead of loudly letting everyone around them know about their
medical history, their sex life, and what their phone will disclose are
blatant lies about their sex life.
So bring on the Smell-O-Phone. Just
make sure that you set it up with a distinctive ring to signal you when
you’re receiving a call. You wouldn’t want to falsely think it was
telling you that you have a stinky waxy build-up in your ears when
it’s actually your Aunt Jenny calling, would you?
©2004 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them, but please don't smell them.