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Wrong number


Martha's Vineyard -- THE CELLULAR telephone, once the instrument of the city, is now a must for people on vacation. Many of my friends on Martha's Vineyard would not think of going to the beach or the golf course without one.

I was on the beach with Jack Neylan when he said, "Is this great, or is this great? There is nothing like lying on a sand dune away from civilization and listening to the waves and having a warm, cloudless sky slowly toasting your body. I think I'll call my broker."

He took his cellular phone out of his sandwich bag and dialed New York. Then he started yelling, "What do you mean CBS fell a quarter of a point? You told me it was going to go up when Westinghouse made its move. So you made a mistake -- I don't like brokers who make a mistake. Listen, I want you to sell my Philip Morris and put me into nonsmoking Walt Disney bonds. And get back to me to confirm the order. I'm on the Lucy Vincent Beach, 10 beach towels from Alan Dershowitz."

The next day I went out on the Farm Neck golf course with Charley Freud. He swung at a ball and hit it into the sand trap. Charley reached into his bag and pulled out his phone.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm calling my psychiatrist. He told me the moment I was going to get a bogey to get in touch with him. This is the third time I've gone into a sand trap this week. I don't want to live anymore."

"You're lucky you have that phone," I said. "Otherwise, instead of calling a doctor, you would go into the water hole and drown yourself."

He spoke into the receiver. "Doctor, it's Charley. I went into the sand trap again. I can't get underneath the ball when I use my seven iron. I'm going to throw myself in front of an electric golf cart."

The worst example I have seen of cellular phone abuse was Betsy Bennett. She had the phone attached to her tennis shorts, and just before she served she ordered groceries from the store and checked on her baby-sitter. When we changed courts she even called her mother in New Jersey.

None of us has the guts to ask her to stop using the phone while we're playing. As she told us early in the season -- if she couldn't get her telephoning done while playing tennis, she wouldn't have a vacation at all.

7+ Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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