There is usually not a time when I can’t take a phone call barring bath time, mealtime, or just plain social anxiety. My oldest daughter left a message yesterday to call her back. Concerned if it was something important, I called back right away. I left a long message relaying crucial information that my age spots are now multiplying and my belly has gone beyond its alluring limit. I know how exciting my precious phone call must have meant to her because when I called again she didn’t answer. Once I did get a hold of her she pleaded, “Gotta call you back. I might be able to make a baby, the postman is here.” This sort of zany exchange is true confirmation of our kinship. Something must have come up because I waited a full fifty-three seconds and she still hadn’t called back.
This same daughter abides by the aphorism “Live long and pester.” It brings back memories of my childhood days with our retro rotary wall phone and its unlimited amount of annoyers. I mean users. More often than not, my nine siblings and I all scurried at the same time with the boisterous longing to hear who was on the other end. What can I say other than we had poor impulse control. I was often terrorized by the maze of traffic that whizzed by me aimed at answering the thing. I was knocked to the ground on several occasions, and wanted to die peacefully like my mother did in later years. Not be fatally crushed by the many children she bore. I did have to commend my adoring siblings on the prompt and timely manner in which they trampled people. If only they had been that quick when asked to do the dishes.
I implicated two brothers in the run-by-shootings procured by water pistols when I was spending too much time on the phone myself. They pointed weapons of tree branches, poking me throughout my whole conversations. I was taught that using scream tactics should at all times be avoided. I needed to wait till I got off the phone before yelling back at them or deafening the person on the other end. I thought to myself, what would Jesus want me to do? I was 95% sure He wouldn’t want me strangling my siblings with the phone cord. Whoever said Give me a home where the buffalo roam had never lived on our range. For someone who comingled with a stampede of wild boars and would someday need to be reprogrammed into polite society, it’s no wonder I still snort when I laugh.
The telephone at times was crucially needed, and at other times was a trap for useless information. I never wanted to be greeted with the pressure of mortality at ten years old when a funeral home called asking if we had already purchased our plots. Fifteen was an even tougher year when I ran for the Bell system with every reverberation, hoping the school football team had my number. We racked up a lot of miles wearing down kitchen linoleum. As if it was a caller fictitiously awarding our family with an all expense paid trip to Fiji. We were fortunate if we got to the end of our street.
Mom ended up cutting me off cold-phone-turkey after I accepted a collect call from Monaco. I thought it was her friend Monica. And our neighbor called continuously wanting to borrow things. We had already loaned him half a bag of fertilizer, the grill, and fifty bucks. Little did I know that nothing had been returned and he wanted to borrow our new lawn mower. Obligingly, I took it right over. Another day the gynecologist’s office called and I relayed the message to mom that her Pabst beer was inconsistent. Maybe I heard things wrong, but I thought mom was a regular wine drinker. Yet it was another sibling prankster who should have gotten in far more trouble for answering the phone imparting, “Roses are red, boogers are green, I’ll only respond, if you say something obscene.”
One time during my teenage phone hogging, one brother quipped, “Your call is extremely important to me. Please enjoy this endless drum solo while I wait”…as he beat away at the walls around me. I tried to redirect his attention by telling him that Bigfoot was in the back yard but he didn’t believe me. I realized that pleasing him was impossible, but making his blood boil was easy. Although not all counsel is created equal. Mom said to hang up and ponder the virtues of silence. Dad said to stop monopolizing the receiver and stretching the coiled cord into my room or he’d rip the ringer from the wall. This might have been a strong indication that I was a stinker. Not so, when someone else pulled the phone into the pantry while trying to spread peanut butter on Saltines thus entwining peanutty stickiness into the coiling line. The exfoliation however certainly increased the cord skins capacity to be more flexible and reduce any wrinkles.
As one Lordess of rings to another, I wanted to help my mother with what I thought was the perfect solution to phone grabbing. I told her to spike my sibling’s milk with barbiturates. Mom couldn’t bring herself to do it, but she could have diverted the phone seizers by keeping bottles of bubbles nearby as deterrents, specifically for those restless beings whose phone waiting impatience was so bothersome. She should have also had several coin operated telephone booths installed in different areas of the house. The financial intake could have assured her trips to Fiji.
Times have changed. Nowadays I don’t like talking on the phone. Utilizing the efficiency of transmittance won’t help me much anyway if I die in my house and I’m too dead to call anyone.