"The old phones cupped your ear," he said. "They were comfortable. Now it's just one tiny hole pointed at another."
"What's the difference?" she said. She was bouncing her foot, ready to leave. She never hung around a place once they were done eating.
"It's like the difference between wine and milk."
"Wine's better," she said.
"That isn't the point. It isn't an evaluation. The new phones are surgical, like wine, cutting. And they've replaced soothing milk."
"What is that? Barthes? Aren't you simplifying terribly? Aren't you leaving out his whole point about nationalism? I was in that seminar, as well," she said. "It wasn't that long ago."
"I'm using the part relevant to the moment. I'm talking about phones, goddamnit, and the way it used to be nice to talk on them."
"It's the only part you understand," she said. "Check!"
She followed him out of the restaurant, thinking: any motherfucker can get a Ph.D.
"I'll see you at home," he said.
"You will call if you're running late," she said.
She watched him drive off. She watched him merge into post-lunch traffic. He drove an old car, an old long pristine Buick convertible that glinted in the sunlight.
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