The Verdict

Well, I did it.  Mostly.  By my count, 9 exceptions, one of which I chose -- the others were situations in which I feared being rude (for example, when you're at a bar and your friend points to something on the television, what do you do?  Close your eyes and hum loudly?)

Some things were nice.  I found it an interesting question, when I got home from school in the afternoon, to wonder what I should do -- rather than automatically gravitating to the computer.  I cooked, read books, cleaned, even played the piano.

Some things were downright aggravating.  That lovely, romantic scene I painted about old friends connecting in a cafe, antique light filtering through the windows and an old bereted Frenchman playing the accordion in the corner?  Not true.  Here's what really happens when one person stubbornly refuses to answer her phone: she arrives first, alerts the hostess and gets lost in her book (the most depressing subject matter I've ever read, in the most delicate and visceral language -- an exhausting combination!)  When she sees her friend is late -- and her friend is NEVER late -- she asks for the bill and is paying it when she sees a call coming in.  She answers grudgingly.  The poor friend has been waiting half an hour directly in front of the oblivious hostess.  A simple text message would have solved everything, but nooooo, she wanted to go techno-free for the weekend.

Or how about this?  Three friends go out to visit a beloved sister at her new place of business, a fetching brewpub in downtown Baltimore.  They park, hoof it to the restaurant, get settled at the bar and then find out her shift was cut hours ago.  "You should have called," says the off-duty chef, looking up from his Blackberry rarely enough to be unaware of how close he is to a sock right in the smug eye socket.

Most lovely was the time my unplugging left for conversation.  Real, live conversation with my friends, husband, family members -- undisturbed by humming, beeping and the on-edge uncertainty that accompanies them.  Silence turns to thought, and thought to prayer.  Perhaps even without electricity, we can stay plugged in after all.

Stay tuned for the students' thoughts tomorrow!