Graham Bell's curse on us all
I suppose my problem with the telephone is that it is, by its nature, and invasion of privacy. Phones also tend to ring at the least opportune times, like when one is bathing, tending to calls of nature, relaxing in front of the TV at the end of the day, or when making love. Many years ago I recall (in a TMI) an incident in which my first wife and I were tending to a pressing matter in that regard, when the phone on the headboard rang. Despite my protestations, she insisted on answering it, though not necessarily stopping what we were doing. Well, it turned out to be her mother. Needless to say, she absolutely couldn’t persevere through to any sort of a mutually satisfying conclusion with Mom on the other end.
My other big problem with phones was when I worked at a newspaper. I didn’t mind there so much when the phone rang, because I was at work. But, I detested making cold calls. I would procrastinate forever with those. That was back in the days when we could smoke at our desks, and sometimes it would feel like I could go through a half pack of cigarettes before I actually called up the person I was seeking. If it was somebody who didn’t really want to hear from a reporter, the call was even harder to make, because I knew I would have to ask some difficult questions, and risked having the phone on the other end being slammed down. “Politician Blotz declined to comment,” would be the way that interlude would be reported in the paper.
When I was in my teens, the absolute worst cold calls were the ones made to whichever female I might have been besotted with at the time, and I was always besotted with somebody. Initially making the call, or leading up to making the call (which might take days, even weeks), was agonizing. I would run through various scenarios: what if her dad answers the phone? Dads hate teenage boys because they think (quite rightly so) that they want to get into their daughter’s panties; what if her mom answers the phone. Moms are usually OK, but not always to be trusted. What if ‘she’ answers the phone? Will I be so petrified that I hang up? In later courtships it would be, What if her kid answers the phone? Her kid hates me because I’m having sex with his/her mother.
Today, of course, we have the ubiquitous cellphone. I’ve already ranted about these, but I do not understand the sick impulse to always be connected in such a manner. My cellphone stays in my glove-compartment and is only used in emergencies. Of course, being only used for such a reason, the battery is normally dead, which renders the satanic little device quite ineffective.
My cellphone, I understand, has all sorts of wonderful features aside from just the phone feature. I have no idea what they are. I have no interest in finding out. I grew up in the era of party-lines. To me it was revolutionary when we got onto a private line. That’s still all I want.
Oh, and my childhood phone number was DE-3954Y. What was yours? Have you ever tried calling it to see what would happen? Do you think you’d reconnect with yourself as a child in a strange time warp? That would be scary.