I was grabbing my Sunday morning $4 latte and caught a conversation between two girls about whether one of them had dated a particular boy or was just hanging out with him, an interesting piece of semantics. Texting the boy on a cell phone was what distinguished hang-out from date: She had flashed him a friendly "What's up?" and he being nearby met her for a dish of ice cream, and they migrated to a party at his friend's house and thence to his grandma's, where he is currently living (and driving Grandma's BMW), his parents having cut him loose financially since he quit school to become a writer. There was audible eye-rolling on the word "writer." She didn't want to date him because he was too screwed up, so it was only a hang-out situation. I wanted to know more about the BMW guy who lived with Grandma — think of it! Unconditional love plus a luxury automobile with a perpetual full tank of gas — but the girls drifted away and left me sitting alone, wondering if love has lost some of its mystery.
It seems to me that Dexter Green of F. Scott Fitgerald's "Winter Dreams" would've lost interest in the wealthy Judy Jones if there had been cell phones in 1922 and he could've texted her and hung out with her instead of worshipping her from a distance and making her a symbol of all that is Noble and Beautiful. Hanging out would've shown Dexter what a nobody she was and saved him the trouble of disillusionment.
Or Holden Caulfield. A cell phone would've made "The Catcher in the Rye" a denser and funnier book, Holden roaming around, flashing messages to Sally Woodruff and Jane Gallagher and Phoebe and Sunny, instead of brooding about who is and who is not a phony.
Meanwhile these young girls are looking to become the next great doctors or lawyers which means long meetings and 12-hour workdays and plenty of homework, all in hopes of early retirement at 55 with enough cash to go traveling on and transform yourself from stolid drudge into a beautiful adventurer. But 55 is a little late for transformation. And having money gets in the way of it. Sorry. All you can do is hang out on the periphery of transformation, as I do and personally I am rooting for the BMW boy who is screwed up (always an asset for a writer) and wants to maybe write a novel about a dropout like himself, which could be a huge best-seller and earn him enough to be able to afford a reclusive life in New Hampshire, and those two girls will be telling people for the next 50 years how they used to date him. You just wait and see.