Neuroses of the Modern Gentleman: Part X

NYT on iPhoneMy ideal –and fortunately, typical– Sunday morning involves bacon, eggs, coffee, and the Sunday New York Times at a restaurant. It is probably the routine I have practiced the longest behind brushing my teeth and getting my hair cut every two weeks. For most of my adult life, I had no choice but to subscribe to or buy the morning paper, set several pounds of it on the breakfast table and unfurl the rest of it around my meal. But I loved it.

For the last couple years, though, I’ve read the Sunday paper on my iPhone. The good news is it’s smaller; the bad news is it’s smaller. But I am fortunate to have good eyesight (knock on wood), so that is not my issue. That would not be a neurosis. This neurosis revolves around the fact that, these days, almost everyone in restaurants is reading from their phones. Couples, that might normally talk to each other, are instead doing something on their phones. They may be reading the New York Times like me, or they may be checking Facebook, firing off emails, or playing Angry Birds.

So my neurosis is that people probably think I’m too busy checking Facebook, emailing, or dominating some iPhone game when, in fact, I’m doing the same thing I’ve done for over a decade, except on a phone instead of a dead tree.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I will often be firing off emails or checking Facebook in a restaurant when I shouldn’t be. I do my best to restrain myself. I have considered phone-stacking. But anyone that has joined me for Sunday breakfast knows that I relish the time to read and think and not feel pressure to keep a conversation going. I’d like the conversation to be sparked by something I read, or something they read, that I should hear about. For now, I’ll just to have to carry on with the fear that strangers assume I’m too engrossed in Words With Friends to actually engage in words with friends.

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