[Trendzilla] Up In Arms Over Hands-Free Devices

After seeing, oh, I don't know, eight squad cars on my 20-minute commute to work (presumably) hunting down evil-doers chatting away on their cell phones, and after three of my friends received tickets for talking on their cell phones, I've started to weigh my hands-free options.

There is that cheapie corded earpiece that came with my (free) phone when I got suckered into a two-year contract—but I'm pretty sure it's long gone by now, swallowed by the abyss of torn stockings and forgotten college essays on the Phaedrus (or something else I'll never read again) under my bed. Then there's the most likely suspect, something called the Parrot ($99.99) that acts as a bigger, better portable speakerphone, which works via Bluetooth and can snap onto your car visor.

That may seem kind of steep just for the luxury of making conversation during drives to and from work or calling for directions when I take the wrong exit, but I'll pretty much do anything to avoid wearing a Bluetooth earpiece. (Though I suppose it's something I'm only bothered by outside of the car—I guess keeping two hands on the steering wheel might be kind of important.)

But you see it everywhere now. While walking to the deli around the corner or carousing the mall, you spot someone who looks like they're having an energetic, engaging dialogue—with themselves. Hand movements and all.

While I totally understand the ease of, uh, not having to occupy an arm to talk on the phone, headsets would also make sense if both your hands were actually, you know . . . occupied. Bluetooths are just taking your average obnoxious man or woman who likes to hold exceedingly loud conversations about their sex life in public places—on a crowded Metrolink train? At the supermarket checkout line? The doctor's office waiting room?—and making it juuuuust that much worse. No one eating lunch wants to hear about the handjob you gave your husband the other night—true story.

Actor/cranky old man Larry David addressed the phenom of sorts in a recent episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Sitting miserably next to a fellow lone diner at a restaurant holding a very vigorous discussion with an unseen someone via Bluetooth, David starts his own imaginary conversation: "So I'm on the 14th hole, okay, and Lloyd has some great Cuban cigars, and we're smoking these great cigars. I reach down to take a puff and Lloyd goes, 'What the fuck you doing!? That's my cigar!'" The Bluetooth man protests, saying he's just holding a conversation with an actual human being—to which David replies, "The outside observer has the same level of annoyance."

It's just a matter of taking into consideration all the people around you. You probably find us just as annoying as we find you—which is probably why you're choosing to chat on your mobile in a social setting in the first place—so just keep the loud prattle to a minimum. Please.


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