Private: Just tell me whether to cross the street

Complaints about the proliferation of cell phones are as plentiful as the flies that invaded my apartment during the course of Saturday’s barbecue, but at this hour (2:15 a.m.) you should just count your lucky stars that I’m not trotting out any “buzz” puns to go with the atrocious fly simile.

For me, the great evil of the cell phone takeover is not the personal conversations to which I must bear witness. (I rather like eavesdropping on your fight with your boyfriend and then reenacting it for all my friends who will laugh at your expense.) Nor is it my phone ringing to interrupt meals (at which my friends and I are ridiculing you). It is not even the fact that some of the new cell phone rings sound like a cockatoo at sunrise or a smoke alarm with a failing battery.

No, for me, the worst development by far is that it is no longer possible to tell when walking down the street whether the man muttering, shaking his head, and waving his fist at the horizon is a homicidal maniac or a regular guy conversing with his mother on some sort of hidden mouthpiece.