Thursday, January 6, 2011

Call Me

The plan is that we will be giving up our land line next month. I realize that this is not a huge thing - that it's what's done now. Tom wanted to do it months ago - years ago, really, but I balked. I didn't like my cell phone and sure didn't want to have to rely on it. There's some residual hearing loss from the height of the squealy fangirl days that has left me not thrilled with phones in general and cell phones in particular. They're hard for me. I like it when the phone rings and I can say, "Is someone gonna get that?" Unless it is very specifically for me, I can dodge it that way.

Ask my real life friends how often I call them.

My mother says that's why I don't have very many friends. "No one wants to be involved in a one-sided friendship, Tammy."

I try to explain that the friendships are reciprocal, it's just the phone calls that are not.

I wasn't always this way.

Ah, that's me on my corded phone in college circa February, 1981. IUP Turnbull Hall, holla! Pledge pin, size 5 jeans... sigh... I don't know who I was talking to (though I have a strong suspicion) but the look on my face certainly implies that he was dreamy...

I am old enough to have grown up with a party line. That's right. In my early adolescence, when I was giggling with my girlfriends on the corded, rotary dial phone, there was every possibility that either of my parents, my sister, or any member of another family that shared our line might pick up an extension at any time. I would go to my parents room to use their extension - for privacy - but privacy was obviously an illusion. There were two phones in my parents' house - the aforementioned one in their bedroom, and another in the kitchen. They still have a corded phone in their kitchen. I swear to God.

I will never forget the day - in my mid (ok, late-mid) twenties - when I went on a date with a boy who had a car phone. He also had a Corvette with personalized plates that alluded to his ability to elude the cops with the mad speeds his car could reach. Jealous yet? I thought you might be. The car phone was this huge console that sat between the two seats. This dude had his phaser set to 'impress the ladies'. (bonus points if you read that in the voice of The Ladies' Man. Yeah.)

And then - when I glanced at it - he asked if I wanted to use it. The phone, that is. I most certainly did. Do you know what I said to the girlfriend I called? Of course you do. "You're not going to believe where I'm calling you from!" Followed by, "Yeah, I think so." - this in response to her query as to whether or not he liked the top I'd settled on for the date. I'd called her earlier - from my GIANT cordless - because I was a little unsure about the propriety of said top for a first date. "Half my boobs are showing..."

"Top half or bottom half?"


"You're probably ok, then."

Anyway, fast forward a couple few years (oh yes, we can't forward from that particular story fast enough...) to my own first cell phone. Part of my job was making home visits and it was viewed as a valuable tool. You know - for emergencies. I could call if I was running late, I could call if the directions I was given were unclear, and - most importantly - I would have it if my car broke down. That was the big one, right? "It's a good thing to have, if your car breaks down." I really did stick to the 'emergencies only' policy, too. Minutes were expensive. If I was conservative with them, I could be liberal in other areas of my life.

Going back to that corded phone at my parents' house - it goes without saying that if you called that line and no-one was home, it just rang and rang. If you called that line and one of us was on it, you got a busy signal.

I know this clip doesn't relate to phones, but it relates to grumpy old men and I like it! I love it!

I don't want to be the grumpy old woman - "And that's the way it was and we liked it! we loved it!" - but I swear - sometimes it would be nice to take the phone of the hook and be unreachable. We really don't have that option, now. Oh sure, we can 'go off the grid' for a day or two (or an hour or two) - but everything we missed is right there waiting for us when we get back - and most of us cannot resist the impulse to catch up. So - we are - essentially - always available to everyone.

I'd rather tell you that that's why I balked at losing the land line - it's a much nobler reason - but I can never lie to you for long. It all comes back to the hearing thing.

My grandmother had a wringer washer and a clothesline until the day they moved her into a nursing home, shortly before she died. In inclement weather, the clothesline moved from the back yard to the basement. She HAD an electric washer and dryer, but only because my mother and my aunt had insisted upon it. She continued to do it her way as long as it was physically feasible for her to do so.

There is something sweet and sentimental about that story, certainly.

I loved my grandma.

But I don't want to be her.

So, if you need to call me - better make sure you have the number for my cell. Y'know what? better yet - just text me. Or shoot me a message on Facebook. I'm much more likely to respond...


Eva Gallant said...

You're better than I am. I don't text!

Cheryl said...

I feel your pain. We still have a landline and yes a corded phone (oh, it's not plugged in but it's in the closet waiting for emergency power outages when all of our cordless and cell batteries die). I was a Girl Scout.

Every couple of years we discuss the merits of getting rid of the landline. No money savings with our bundled plan so we keep it. It's great for unwanted sales calls.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I'm hanging onto my landline for dear life-- We have about 5 phones (one number) in our house and they ring often. I hate the idea of hubby and I having our "own" phones that we need to keep "on our person" in case someone calls us (individually) at home so the land line is staying... at least for now.

LOVE the car phone story. I remember those-- gosh they were big back then but oh so cool.

Great story telling Tammy. Thanks for the memories.

xo jj

Rosa said...

HA! I had no idea you still had a landline. I got rid of mine about two years ago. It was a fiscal decision for me. And this from the woman who scolds me for not being on facebook. :) You are quite the contradiction.

Lizzie said...

wow, i have never read the "old school phones" reminisced so fondly or in such detail, you crack me up :)

Katie Gates said...

I love this post! Brings back so many memories. I remember when princess phones were the thing to buy (and you were so cool if your family had one!). I remember, too, one weekend in my 20s when I was going through an emotional growth spurt and needed to be left alone for a few days. I let the phone ring. Didn't pick it up (no answering machine yet, either). By the end of the weekend, I was changed and I was stronger. ... I'm still hanging onto my land line, but I must admit, I'm glad there's no cord involved!