Ugly is Hard to Lose

P8There’s an old cowboy saying that goes something like: “Forget pretty, marry an ugly woman, she’ll never leave you.” Hey, don’t give me that look. I didn’t make it up. Plus, you gotta admit, ugly is hard to lose. Get yourself a worthless, homely dog, a pocketknife that refuses to hold an edge, or a pickup with a lousy heater, you could leave all three parked in a ghetto and the local drug dealer would bring them back to you out of that one shred of goodness in his heart.

Take my cell phone, for example. Go ahead. No one else will. If we measured the age of our electronic devices in tech years the way we do with dog years, this thing would be closing in on the century mark. I’ve left the dumb phone in restrooms, convenience stores, restaurants, on the bumper of the car. A shiny new i-Something would’ve been history eons ago. Not this phone. Leave this thing under your seat on a Boeing 747, the pilot himself will chase you down in the terminal to give it back.

Okay, maybe it was just the stewardess paging me, but the effect was similar. “Will the owner of the ancient black dumb phone please return to Gate B3…”

For approximately two years I’ve been getting sly, tempting emails from my cell phone company. “You’re due for an upgrade. Look at this shiny, super intelligent phone you can have for nothing…almost. You know you want it. You’ve earned it.” But alas, I cannot bring myself to put a perfectly good phone out to pasture just because it doesn’t tell me where to go in dulcet, soothing tones.

Then last week, I did exactly that. Put it out to pasture, so to speak. While mowing the small state park my mother calls a lawn, my poor black chunk of a phone fell out of the pocket of my sweatshirt. I had no idea where, and approximately five acres of possibilities. I admit, I didn’t waste a whole lot of time searching, although I did pause for a brief moment of respectful silence. And to mourn the loss of the memory chip inside, upon which I had thoughtfully arranged all of my music into playlists for every occasion, from “Hello, Friday” to “Enter my office at risk of your life” and something called “Workout songs” that I created while in the grip of a delusion of fitness.

As it happened, the dumb phone went missing the day before we left to visit my sister in Spokane. Since being disconnected is the modern equivalent of running around naked and blindfolded, we stopped at the first dealer along the way and got hooked up with a pretty new phone that spent the entire trip proving it was, in fact, ten times smarter than me. After two days locked in a car together, I had at least persuaded it to let me make phone calls and even read my email, if it was in the mood.

Upon our arrival at home, I waltzed over to my parents’ house, prepared to show off my shiny new toy. I walked into their house and there, in the middle of the kitchen island, was my old phone.

“Can you believe it?” my mom said. “I was walking across the back yard and I looked down and there it was, right by my foot.”

Of course it was. If she hadn’t stopped, it probably would’ve leapt up and attached itself to the leg of her jeans by some magnetic force. And I am thrilled, even if I did blow what turned out to be unnecessary dollars on my new, ‘free’ phone. If nothing else, I have my playlists again, and the old clunker works perfectly well as an mp3 player. Plus it’ll be there, waiting patiently to be reactivated on that not too distant day when I leave the new phone on the top of a gas pump.

Because like the old cowboys declared, if you don’t keep a close eye on it pretty will be gone in a blink…but ugly is forever.

Kari Lynn Dell – Montana for Real