Sitting at the bar in the Uptown …
A lot of people think these new cellular phones are stupid. They’re a waste of money. Why do you need to be making telephone calls all the time?
DUANE MILLER (sitting next to him at the bar): They are a waste of money.
MARV WALESA: … Or they say, “We have too many phones as it is.” I have two of them in my house and one in my shop. My wife wanted me to have a different phone number so she could call me from the house, instead of walking a hundred feet out to the shop.
DUANE MILLER: Your wife is crazy.
MARV WALESA: At least she still wants to talk to me. … I almost did get another number. She hates the cold. Doesn’t want to walk out the shop in the winter. That was going to be her excuse why we needed to move to Arizona.
My son bought one of these for my granddaughter. They live down in Fargo. I guess you have to have one there. My son said, “I want to be able to call her, whenever she’s out.” She’s sixteen. You know how that goes.
DUANE MILLER: If my dad had made me carry one of those around when I was sixteen, I’d have dropped it in the lake. “Whoops!” That would break it, right?
MARV WALESA: My wife likes to check up on me like that. Used to call here every night.
DUANE MILLER: She did.
MARV WALESA: Used to drive Rick Nelson crazy. Rick was the old bartender. He used to say he was going to charge me. I told him this was how he had to earn his tips.
He tried to make her call the pay phone in the back, by the bathrooms. Of course, a lot of times we didn’t hear it. And sometimes we might not hear it, on purpose. So she’d call the bar phone again.
DUANE MILLER: I can see where this is going.
MARV WALESA: So one night I came in here and Finn was talking on his cell phone. He had that girlfriend in Chicago.
DUANE MILLER: She was pretty. I saw her when she was here at Christmas. I don’t think she liked it here, though.
MARV WALESA: It seemed like a, um, difficult conversation they were having. And he could just walk in the back of the room when he didn’t want us listening. Because of course we were listening.
DUANE MILLER: You don’t have to have a cellular phone to do that. You can get one for your house where you can walk around. I’ve seen those.
MARV WALESA: Well, mine still all have wires. Mine are all the regular kind, the kind that hang on the wall.
Anyway, I thought that looked pretty good, how you could walk around with that phone. So last time I was in Grand Forks, I went and got one. It doesn’t work outside of town, like if I go up to my uncle’s house — he lives near old Gwyneth. I don’t really know how they work, but they don’t work at places out of town, or when you’re driving between here and Devil’s Lake or Grand Forks.
DUANE MILLER: I still can’t believe you did that.
MARV WALESA: It’s great. Now my wife can call me whenever she wants, in the shop, over here. And y’know what? Now that she can do it, she hardly ever does. One time she sat at home and tried to figure out a way to make a call back to our house so that it would ring on all our phones, and I would pick it up in the shop. Of course you can’t do that. I told her, “I wish you’d put that much thought into what’s for dinner.” That didn’t go over too well. It was like an itch. As long as she couldn’t scratch it it was making her crazy.
DUANE MILLER: She still calls you.
MARV WALESA: Yeah, but only once a night, maybe. Not all the time. She’ll call up and tell me something she’s watching on television. She just called me a little while ago and said there’s a program on about space. I said, “Space? What are you doing watching a show about space?” I thought she’d be watching one of those shows, those soap operas. I can’t stand those things. She said, “No it’s a science show. This is the wildest thing. Did you know the farthest things away from the Earth are these things called quasars — I think that’s what she said, ‘quasars’ — and the light we see from them is like from the beginning of the universe but now they’re 15 billion light years away?”
DUANE MILLER: You probably thought you must be drunk already, when you heard that.
MARV WALESA: Well, it’s interesting to hear what’s on her mind. I think I talk to her more about what’s on her mind with this thing than we do, let’s say, when we’re eating together. Of course most of the time we’re eating a meal together, we’re watching TV.
Last time I saw my granddaughter I showed this to her. I say, “Hey, I’ve got one of these now, too.” I thought she’d think I was very up-to-date. She said, “I hate mine,” except it has some kind of game on it she likes to play. She said, “If I want to talk to someone, I just go over to their house.” I guess her friends don’t have them yet.
DUANE MILLER: Her friends have smarter dads.
MARV WALESA: Maybe. My son thinks everybody will have one of these after awhile. He said maybe the kind of phone that sits in your house will go away.
DUANE MILLER: I hate the buttons on these things, though.
MARV WALESA: Yeah, they’re small. You get used to them after awhile.
DUANE MILLER: I still liked the ones with the rotor on it, that you dial and it spins. I loved the sound that rotor made. You’d hear it and it was exciting because you knew you were calling someone far away. I’m still made they made us get the push-button kind a few years ago.
MARV WALESA: You would still be mad about that.