So there I was, about to text while driving to visit my family. In my mind, it was (literally) a no-brainer. My text message was going to be simple: “10.” The holiday traffic on the freeway wasn’t that bad, and the thunderstorm was turning into just a heavy downpour. Why not, I thought.

“One can survive everything nowadays, except death, and live down anything, except a good reputation.”
—Oscar Wilde

I met my wife’s icy, incredulous gaze as she stared first at the phone, then at me. Proving that there might yet be hope for man, I handed her the phone. “You text,” I said.

“Text whom?” she asked.

“My brother. Just reply to his SMS.”

“How do I do that?”

Leaning over, I said, “Press the red phone button, and then look for messages.”

“Like this envelope-looking thing?”


“How do I reply?”

“Press the menu button.”

“This one?”

I shift my gaze over. “Yes,” I replied.

“What do I tell him?”


“10 what?”

“Just ‘10.’”

“The numbers aren’t coming out.”

“You have to push the <alt> key.”

“Okay. And how do I actually send the message?”

“Press the trackball button.”

“Oh. Got it!”

My wife and I have identical phones. I should have told her to text, “2.”