I was overjoyed to see that LG Mobile has launched a mobile phone that stops you making calls when you're drunk. With its so-called "sobriety lock-out" (not to be confused with the "drunken lock-out", which is when you're drunk and you lose your keys), the LP4100 is supposedly aimed at the "hard-living young person", but I can't think of anyone who would not benefit. You and I may never have met, but I will bet my stash of holiday liqueurs that you have made a drunken call in the past six months. And when I say "drunken", I do not mean you called your mum to thank her for a cake, and you happened to be a little bit the worse for wear; I mean you rang somebody while drunk and you said things that you wouldn't have said when you were sober. Before you were drunk, you would not even have made the call; when you were sober again (in the morning, like Churchill), you did not think, "Oops!" you thought - I'm sorry, but there it is - "Oh shit."
If I were a marketing man in LG Mobile's employ, I'd be working on an ad campaign in the style of the doomed Orange animal balloons, which separated customers into canaries (chatterers), panthers (gadget-lovers), racoons (skint). It's hard to conceive of a drunken animal, which is why teenagers are always trying to feed cider to dogs (ah, the eternal human What If?), but just play let's-pretend for a second here.
LG Mobile's Rhinoceros customer would be your serial drunk; for brevity, I'll call him an alcoholic. Before mobile phones were invented, he used to have to piece together his evening by checking the receipts in his pocket (oh ... a cocktail in the Hilton, apparently ... and then dinner, oh no, more drinks it seems, in Pizza Express ... and then a stripper, nope, my mistake, overpriced bubbly in Spearmint Rhino ... and then I must have got home, Watson, because here is a taxi receipt in my pocket ... and also, I think you'll find, I am at home). This "hard-living (not) young person" will have a rota of drunken calls that are mainly ex-wives, unless he is in therapy, in which case it will also include a pair of beleaguered parents, who are way too old to be listening to this bilge at two in the morning, but if some neo-Freudian in Putney thinks it is their fault, who are they to disagree? I went out with a Rhino once, who called me, drunk, when I was in Rotterdam, and I didn't pick up because it would have been right pricey, so he called the hotel reception instead, and in the morning, the Dutch receptionist had taken down his message so it looked like this: "I know you're not ****ing asleep, you ****ing ****, **** [Sorry, I did not hear this word] **** hate you, I hate you, you ****." I was really amused by her asterisks. Like I was going to be offended by a few swear words! I was going out with the guy!
I am wondering how much the Rhino will be influenced by the sobriety lock-out. If it's no more than a red light or a beeping, he won't even notice it, and if it's an honest-to-goodness, "You cannot make this call - your breath has more units than Russia," he'll just throw his phone down a drain, and then he'll have to deal with that in the morning, as well as the broken teeth and the misplaced eyeball and the irrevocably maimed relationships. The Rhino probably won't buy this phone, on balance; but let's not forget, he is an alcoholic. Nobody is trying to sell anything to a person like him.
The Joey is the young, inexperienced drinker (I mean this in the sense of a baby kangaroo). She habitually does a Rachel from Friends, which means that she is petite and rarely drinks, so that on the rare occasion that she does a bit of vino, all this veritas just comes flooding out, and she calls her ex-boyfriend to tell him she's over him, when she clearly isn't. Except that, unlike Rachel from Friends, who deviates from reality in the respect that she isn't, you know, real, this Joey (not from Friends) has about three dozen boys who she is kind of into, but isn't really sure, and her feelings seem to solidify and become way, way more important after the third glass of wine, so that her life is one long declaration of love or hate or both, which nobody takes seriously, and none of this glamorises her in the eyes of anybody at all, and she certainly doesn't end up with Ross (from Friends), she ends up with the one person she never called, because she was never thinking about him, and he's the only one, having never had a histrionic phone call from her, who wants to go out with her.
This is a classic Joey story: my friend got locked-out drunk, and decided to use this unscheduled pavement-time to call her new nearly boyfriend who wasn't answering (it later transpired he was seeing someone else), told his answerphone how much she loved him (and be clear: the love conversation was a long way off). Meanwhile, along came her recent-ex (who was in effect stalking her, I now think), and - drunkenly figuring that she had to sleep somewhere - she claimed that she'd been leaving the message for him, which all worked out terribly well until the next morning, when he actually, you know, checked his messages. And plus, she really shouldn't have gone back to his house at all.
The Joey would love this phone, though, thinking about it, it would only clear up a certain amount of her problems. The only person who wouldn't love this phone is Joey's flatmate, to whom would devolve all the responsibility of listening to Joey, since her phone wouldn't let her call anybody else.
The next animal analogy kind of relies on your knowing the personality traits of your average Reindeer. They are grumpy buggers, though not in the sense that they will chase and kill things. No biological purpose is served by their unappealing natures; they will just take any given interaction, and respond to it in a grumpy way. The Reindeer will call her good friends and family members, and say mean things. It won't start off as a rant. It'll start as a regular conversation, and the friend will say something like, "And then I lost my Oyster card", and suddenly the Reindeer will be all: "Well, that's you all over, Reindeer-friend, that's why you've never been able to hold down a job/lose any weight." This barrage of home truths that aren't even true will spill out of the Reindeer, and in the morning, rather than the waves of self-hate experienced by the Joey, there will be no more than a sour residue, a "Well, maybe I shouldn't have said it, but somebody had to ..." I am not a Reindeer, but I did have a Reindeer moment once, and called my mum a drunken old bag, and she was so upset that when she went into college the next day (she was doing a stained glass course at the time ... need I give you any clearer illustration of how she's not a drunk, and she isn't an old bag?), she asked all her classmates if that's how they saw her. "No!" They said, as one. "Your daughter is just a complete *****!"
You're wondering why anybody even talks to the Reindeer, let alone befriends it, but they're lovely creatures in the right environs. You would love the Reindeer, if you'd never had a drunk phone call from her. This phone was made for the Reindeer (as well as all these other animals).
And finally, the Camel - he is such a stoic that nobody ever notices how drunk he is: he never slurs or topples; he doesn't even realise that he's drunk. My boyfriend is a camel. He came back after the pub the other night with his friend Pete, and whispered to me: "I'm not drunk at all. I don't know how Piss got so pissed." He's going to kill me for telling you that. Literally kill me. By the time you read this, I'll be dead. Anyway, the Camel never makes a really regrettable call, but always kicks himself slightly (try to imagine the logistics of that) because whatever plans he made on the phone, he can't remember them, and maybe his Reindeer girlfriend was rude to him, only he can't remember that either, so can't get any mileage out of it. He will love this phone. Everybody will love this phone. Even the Rhino, who will lose this phone as soon as he gets it, will think on it with a fond nostalgia. All humanity is catered to. Quick, someone make some animal balloons.
· The LP4100 handset was launched in Korea in 2005. LG Mobile has said in a statement that it has no plans at present to launch this handset in the UK.