“If everyone wanted peace as much as they want a new iPhone, then there would be peace.” — Shira Tamir

It will happen this way. It will be a fine first day of spring. The priest and the mourners, family and friends, will take the mic and speak of him. They will say things like this:

“J.P. was a good man and a fine human being, a great writer, a humorist and artist. He got many awards for his work … but he never got an iPhone. Never. Got. An. IPhone.”

Another will say: “I knew J.P. He was a good friend and humanist, a progressive and good husband to She, who suffered him for 60 years. He loved her, cared for her and their children and got all her love … but J.P. never got an iPhone.

“J.P. was well known for his sartorial skills. He had four linen jackets. He had 15 hoodies, 20 silk pocket hankies, eight pair of shoes, hundreds of socks and a drawer full of colorful undershorts … but no iPhone.”

His doctor: “He came each year for his checkup. It was usually fine. He had good blood pressure, excellent cholesterol and triglyceride levels. He constantly got praise for his health … but J.P. never got an iPhone.

“He asked me, ‘Doc, will I live to get the iPhone 6s?’ I said, “Of course, why not? It’s only six months until your contract with U.S. Cellular is up. Why not?’

“‘How about the iPhone 7?’ he asked excitedly.

I said, ‘Don’t push it.'”

His one good friend at U.S. Cellular: “He came in every day for a year. He would go to the iPhone display and touch one, fondle it, hold it to his ear and pretend to be talking to someone. He was, you know, a longtime customer. We were the first and only phone service he had. Because of his reputation and fame as a writer, the other companies – Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint – begged him to come to them. They would send a car for him, they said.

“They made incredible offers no one else got. J.P. had their admiration, their respect. But he never got an iPhone from them, because he refused to change companies. He had loyalty and respect, but no iPhone.”

She, who spent their entire married life caring for J.P., remembered how he would spend hours sitting on the garden deck, sulking over the fact that he would not acquire an iPhone.

He heard from some that they were easy to break and not worth the price.

Dissatisfied, he went out in the community and constantly annoyed people with his questions. He would go up to strangers in the mall or market who were standing checking their phones, look over their shoulders at their screens, frightening them.

“What kind of phone do you have?” Of course it was always an iPhone, which infuriated him.

J.P.’s daughters remember him calling them in Los Angeles (to their iPhones) and telling them how he would see small children in schoolyards checking their smartphones. Sometimes, they said, he would shake the cyclone fence and shout at them, “Is that an iPhone 6?”

One police officer who had known J.P. for years spoke and said, “Yes, we saw him badgering kids and others about their phones. But we knew he was OK; he was just weird about that phone.”

Donna Jean, at the U.S. Cellular store in town, explained, “J.P. had a longtime history of owning one or another kind of Android for years. We couldn’t convince him that they were fine. Every time he would have a problem with them, he’d say they were junk and wished he had gotten an iPhone.”

So why didn’t he just finally get one? It all came down to the contract.

One friend explained: “It was when he finally turned 80 years of age that he decided it was time. He wasn’t getting any younger, and he came and said to me, ‘I don’t mind dying without seeing Paris. I don’t mind dying without eating sushi, but I don’t want to die without having an iPhone.’

“But when he finally came to that decision and was aggressive about it, he was in the middle of his contract with us for his last Android. There was nothing we could do about it. A contract is a contract.”

One of J.P.’s old comedian friends from Hollywood spoke at the wake and envisioned a scenario:

“J.P. comes to the gates of heaven and is greeted by St. Peter, who embraces him and consoles him. ‘You’re going to love it here, J.P. You can have anything you want. You see that tall man over there with the glasses? That’s the famous Steve Jobs. He’s going to upgrade your iPhone for free. Isn’t that wonderful? You did remember to bring it with you, right?'”

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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