What’s your handle?

In CB radio land, people have a funny way of saying everything. Take the phrase, “got your ears on?” That’s slang for asking someone, “are you currently on the air and available to chat?” They also call each other by cool nicknames like “Beef Jerky” and, if driving, refer to attractive female passengers as “seat covers” – Nice. (Wonder what they call attractive female passengers when they get creeped out and jump from of a moving vehicle?).

CB is actually short for Citizens’ Band Radio. It was first regulated by the FCC in the 1940s as a way for people to talk to each other over the airways. It got popular in the 1970s, but eventually faded, like Quaaludes and disco.

Starting today, the only way anyone will be able to reach me from now on will be by CB. My cheap (yet expensive), defective, never-in-service, no-longer-under-warranty, still-stuck-in-a-contract cell phone is headed for the bottom of a lake (or into one of those donation bins for domestic violence victims, but honestly, aren’t they the last people who should be subjected to this torture?). I’m not going to take it anymore.

For starters, I don’t use my cell phone enough to justify the cost. It’s like paying full-price for college only to be a part-time student who studies the Cultural Misunderstandings of Foosball.

Secondly, I don’t use it enough, or rely on it enough, to justify putting up with the provider (the only thing worse than people, and companies, that lie and cheat are ones that don’t even try to hide it – and still get away with it).

Plus I like to disappear sometimes. Not be easily found. Not be called, unexpectedly, away from doing something cool – like pretending to be an up-and-coming NASCAR mechanic in order to impress women at the Honkey Tonk in Sherburne – to do something that’s not cool (like help someone swap out an old furnace or pool table). I like to not get tied up in my free time. Cell phones tie you up. They’re the worst nightmare for a guy like me. A personal hell I paid monthly to live in.

Not anymore. It’s CB transmission time. I’ve already picked out a nickname, too. They call those “handles.” Mine’s “Wolfman.” No particular reason. I just figured it would sound cool in a conversation over the airways:

“Breaker one-three. Breaker one-three. This is Hemi-roid. Wolfman, you got your ears on?” (Translation: “Wolfman, this is Hemi-roid, are you there?”)

– “This is Wolfman, kick it in good buddy.” (Translation: “I’m here Hemi-roid, go ahead.”)

“What’s your twenty, over?” (Translation: “What’s your location?”)

– “I’m shakin’ and bakin’ down the Big Road just past 191 headin’ for the next pickle park to kick a tire.” (Translation: “I’m currently traveling above the speed limit on the interstate near mile marker 191. I plan on stopping at the next available rest stop so I can go to the bathroom.”)

Aside from using a cool language that I hope I can find ways to incorporate into my everyday life, CB also makes sense for a lot of other reasons.

Here’s a short list of CB benefits:

• It’s free. And why not, it’s called the Citizens’ Band – radio of the people, for the people and by the people. There’s no restrictive contracts, hidden fees or expensive bills to worry about. It’s the free-grazing of interpersonal communication.

• Unlike a cell phone, on a CB you’re allowed to talk and drive. In fact, you’ll be ridiculed if you don’t.

• There’s no need for family calling plans or top-five friends minutes packages. In CB land, everyone is your family and your friend.

Finally, did I mention you get to identify yourself and others using a “handle.” Mine is “Wolfman.” My home channel is one-three (13). Got your ears on?

McGuire has deceptively low blood-pressure. His column appears Thursdays.

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