I thought I was up on things when I learned to text. And though my aging thumbs refused to fly across the keypad of my cellphone — trek was more like it — once I got the hang of using the tiny microphone to record, it took only minutes to send a message. Easy as pie. And quick!
Not so quick, come to think of it. Truth to tell, I found it a bit drawn out and annoying, accustomed, as I was, to one short and sweet phone chat.
“Friday, 1 o’clock, the diner?” was how my texting went. And went and went, a simple sentence taking three separate texts from my end alone, and I was still bashing thumbs.
#1: How about lunch on Friday?
“Friday is good. What time?”
#2: One is good for me.
#3: The diner?
“Nah. I’m meeting Ellie there today.”
If one picture is worth a thousand words, one text is worth bupkis.
Then there’s the shorthand — or short-finger, as it is — of chat-speak, the requisite LOL to let a receiver know that what you just said — typed really, no one actually says anymore — was funny. After all, how would anyone know something was yuk-yuk if you didn’t tell them?
But I couldn’t claim my salt in the cellphone stew till I mastered the fine points of emojis, sprung free by tapping the smiley face at the bottom of my cell’s texting page. It was then I called forth happy, sad, and angry faces, a veritable mood menu including party hats and clapping hands standing for good times, airplanes and cars denoting travel, puckered lips — “Love ya, babe” — a treasure trove of symbols with which to punctuate my missives when mere words just would not do, laying claim to my expertise in the chapel of the mighty text and banishing thoughts that I was behind the times, uncool, or, heaven forbid, not fly.
But alas, my triumph was short-lived, when in came a text from a friend who signed off with not a simple anyone-can-have-it emoji, but her cartoon likeness, happy-faced and popping out of a side-of-the-road, flap-down mailbox, exclaiming in a colorful, fun font, “Hey, buddy, how’s it going?” It was her all right, but younger, thinner, and cuter than she was in real life — sorry, girlfriend.
That was for me: An iteration of my real self, yet a new and improved version, giving my lame texts punch and personality. And for a free Bitmoji download a new me was mine to have. Well, that and the help of my daughter, Leslie, a technical genius as far as I’m concerned.
Shape of face, eye color, hairstyle — doesn’t need a cut every six weeks. Dressed in my look: tights, long cardigan, and scarf. No cellulite or wrinkles, thank you very much. It was all there in my avatar, and I was good to go, ending my texts with hands to hips, my head cocked just so — a bit oversized, but on me it looked good. I’m so cute I can hardly stand it.
Open-armed and smiling, I give morning hugs and nighttime kisses: “Muah!” Someone gets my angst up, I get a little frown on, and the colorful font exclaims “Bummer!” I’m still adorable me.
Who then is the grouch in the mirror giving me the stare? The one with the under-eye pouches and bleeding lipstick, and why so pale? My Bitmoji always has a healthy blush to her cheeks. And what’s that pooch of belly fat? Don’t tell me muffin top! Argh! What’s a girlfriend to do? Call up that old cutup, Dr. Shiv? Not a chance. This old face and bod are going down with me; it’s my darling double I worry about.
To my eye, a change of late has come over my little one-inch imp. A smiling-on-the-outside, crying-on-the-inside kind of vibe from my outstanding other. Maybe it’s something only a BFF would spot, but methinks something is getting her down. A “wine time” pick-me-up, anyone? Nah. Been there, done that. Girls’ night out? Uh-uh. Enough with the girls already, it’s time to bring on the boys. But who? How?
I know, what she needs is a beau, a Bitmoji beau. There’s an app whose time has come. And I know just how I’d set him up.
I’ll give this one dimples, brown eyes, a beautiful smile, and gray hair — distinguished on an older man, don’t you think? I’ll turn him out in a tracksuit and big white sneakers. Passé, you say? Wanna step outside?
They’ll “meet-cute” in a Stop and Shop, where there’s only one copy of The Sunday Times.
He: “You take it.”
She: “No, you.” Bitmojis don’t waste time with idle chitchat.
He: “Share it, then.” The dimples deepen. “Coffee?” Gestures toward an empty table.
What’s she got to lose? They’re in a public place; he seems nice enough.
He likes the business section, she Arts & Leisure. They both take their coffee black, no sugar. They chat. He still works part time. (Good, a man who has interests.) He likes to drive. Why don’t they take a trip together? Fast worker he, but for all her sass, our Bitmoji babe is still old school. They just met!
He: “How about a movie, then? I hear ‘The Wife’ is good.”
Rita Plush is the author of the novels “Lily Steps Out” and “Feminine Products.” She had a house in East Hampton for many years.