>Until this morning, I belonged to a special group of semi-Luddites who were proud owners and users of Motorola StarTac telephones. Surely you remember this brilliant piece of technology? According to the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center, it was the smallest cell phone available as of 1996. Still don’t remember? Thanks to about.com, here’s a visual reminder. Isn’t it beautiful? Sigh.

What I love best about my StarTac, which my husband bought for me in 1999 (or possibly 1998), is that it is a phone. It made calls, it remembered phone numbers and took messages for me, and it tracked some incoming and outgoing calls. My StarTac also had ample room for Power Puff Girl stickers. Of course, the most important feature is that it was reliable. These things are all I need from a phone. This phone makes me swoon.

All love affairs are doomed to a sad conclusion, and thus my love for my StarTac phone has met a tragic end. It did not die, but was wrenched away from my loving hands and ears by a cruel enemy determined to crush all that is good in the world. Thanks to the Bush administration’s love of spying on American citizens, I was forced into getting a new “improved” phone. The FCC passed a rule that no new service could be given to phones without GPS capability “in the event of a 911 call.” (As if that is the only time the government would want to track me. Whatever.) Alas, my trusty, loyal 1999 StarTac does not perform this magic trick.

When I went to get a better calling plan, the nice people at Verizon explained to me that it would not be possible to keep my beloved if I made any changes to my existing plan because of this tyrannical rule. I decided that I would keep my old phone and just suffer with my crappy plan. The people at Verizon told me that sometime in 2007, the FCC is forcing them to drop all customers who are not trackable – er, I mean, helpable in an emergency. So I bit the bullet and laid my friend to rest. My new phone can take pictures and give me directions if I get lost on my way somewhere. I can text message, which I loathe. (Note: do not text message me if you want me to reply to you.) It probably also plays music. It has a speaker phone. Big fucking deal. I want my StarTac.

Brings a fuckin’ tear to my eye, to think of it lying mute on my nightstand. Rest well, my little black folded, friend. You deserve it.