Chris Johnson

OMG, how did I function before texting?

Did you know that the text message turned 20 years old this past week? That means that this time next year, it'll be legal for me to buy the text message a drink on its birthday.


Well, I'm not really LOL (which stands for "laughing out loud"). If I were to accurately text my reaction to the first paragraph, it would be IWLOLBDWPTTICYK (which is hip texting lingo we young folks use in lieu of saying "I would laugh out loud but don't want people to think I'm crazy, you know.").

Yes, it was 20 years ago that software engineer Neil Papworth sent the very first text message of just two words, "Merry Christmas" -- to which Vodafone director Richard Jarvis responded, "K."

And so began the decline of human communication, spelling and many marriages when women picked up their husbands' phones when they beeped while the men were in the shower.

"Bill! Who is this Monica chick and why is she calling you Baby?!"

"I don't know, Hillary. Depends on what your definition of 'is' is."

Like most men, I really hate talking on the phone, so I love the text message, even if I don't understand most acronyms. Heck, I just found out that WD-40 has nothing to do with Walrus Doody. But, acronym-challenged as I may be, I still find texting to be way less involved than talking.

Besides, most writers don't like talking, period. We're just not sociable creatures. We think we ought to be able to write a book and have everyone who wants a copy to meet us some place like Omaha and we'll throw books out to everybody who wants one and be done with it -- especially done talking about it.

God knows, the last thing a writer wants to talk about is something they wrote. I haven't liked anything I've written since 1976 when I asked Jessica Lange to marry me in a romantic letter I penned after seeing her brilliant performance in "King Kong."

Just think how my life would have been different if I had texting back in 1976. For one, Jessica Lange would have instantly responded, "Y!" to my proposal instead of what actually happened -- which is that my parents obviously censored my incoming mail and her letter of acceptance.

I know she was seen as a dumb blonde back then, but she couldn't have been dumb enough to turn down a marriage proposal from the most charming 6-year-old in all of Possum Holler who also drove the coolest Big Wheel in the neighborhood especially if I also texted her a pic of me shirtless in my Spider-Man Underoos.

But, alas, there was no text, Twitter or internet back then. About as high-tech as I got in those days was a See-n-Say. Probably a good thing because if Jessica Lange had actually texted back a "Y!" I probably would have wrecked my Big Wheel while texting and driving and tweeted in my Underoos.

Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent whose "Best of Chris Johnson" is now available for Kindle. Follow him at