What I say about me

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What my cell phone ringtone — among other things — says about me

According to an article I read, people’s cell phone ringtones say something about them. One woman set her ringtone as a love song that calls to mind her wonderful husband. Someone else got his ringtone from Clint Eastwood’s movie, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,because the famous theme song amuses his friends. Another guy created several Barack Obama ringtones for the noble purpose of “annoying his mostly Republican coworkers.”

You can tell that the woman’s ringtone reflects her loving personality, the movie guy’s ringtone expresses his sense of humor and the Obama man’s ringtone achieves his life-goal of irritating people. That’s what their ringtones say about them.

This makes me wonder: What does my ringtone say about me? It’s a pleasant arpeggio of chimes. Does this say I’m a courteous sort who doesn’t feel the cultural compulsion to annoy people? Or does it say I’m boring because I don’t have some signature ring like, Play that Funky Music White Boy? Perhaps it reveals something deeper, such as, “I spent eight seconds picking a tone because all I really want my ringtone to say is, My Phone is Ringing.”

I’d heard there are other things that say something about me. My car, for example. The one who drives a Lexus says that he is a classy person who appreciates quality and comfort. The owner of a giant pickup with balloon tires declares she is an outdoorsy type who might flatten your Prius. Similarly, what I say by driving a generic silver Honda Accord is, “I am driving a generic silver Honda Accord, because I couldn’t afford both a Lexus and a house so I chose the house.”

Which reminds me, my house also says something about me. The owners of a beach house say, “We need a second home that’s twice as big and fancy as your main house to show we can get away from our hectic urban lifestyle even though we won’t.” The owners of a country villa say, “We want to be close to the land and have enough space to ride our horses through the fields and in our giant master bathroom.” What my house says is, “Creak. Squeak. Paint me. Wait ‘till I surprise you with the next big thing you’ll have to fix.” I really do like my house, but sometimes I wish it would keep quiet.

My clothes say something about me. The one who comes to work wearing crisp slacks and a blazer declares, “I am a professional and will give 100 percent effort to every task.” Someone who dresses in casual khaki or denim says, “I work hard but also take time to relate and reflect.” What I say as I step out the door and head to my office is, “Thank goodness I remembered to wear pants!” That’s not a cheap joke about old guys; it’s a cheap joke about me. I’ve had nightmares about leaving the house with no pants since second grade.

The way I express my faith says something about me. This has changed over the years. I showed my faith as a kid by wearing short pants, wing-tipped shoes and a skinny tie, which said, “I’m a total church nerd who attends four services a week.” As a teen during the Jesus Movement, I wore big hair, bell-bottomed jeans and carried a large Bible with a fuzzy cover. This said, “I don’t know what the deal is with the fuzzy Bible cover either, so don’t ask.”

During my early 20s I went through a period when I told everyone how they should practice their faith, because at the time I was fortunate enough to know everything. What this said about me was, “I’m so obnoxious I even annoy myself, but I’ll be better once I get married and stop knowing everything.”

These days I don’t wear wingtips or big hair, and I no longer carry a fuzzy Bible. And since I know less than I ever did, I try to avoid telling people how to live. Thank goodness. There are lots of new Christian accessories I could wear or display and plenty of ways I could tell people what to do without actually doing it myself. But what those things would say about me might not be so great.

I want to be a guy someone can talk to rather than some dude with a cool ringtone. I want my good attitude and thoughtful words to say more about me than how I dress. I’d prefer that my courteous driving would display more about my faith than a fish symbol on the bumper.

Because when you look beneath the outward stuff, it’s me who really says the most about me.

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