I remember phone calls on the family phone… the kind that you dialed and answered from a black rotary dial phone. Then there was the push button phone still connected to a wall jack. “Georgette, …telephone!” someone would yell through the house and I would come running to get the call. Perhaps there was someone in the room listening, perhaps not. The sound of phone chatter either from the kitchen or the master bedroom where the phones were plugged in was a familiar sound. Someone in the family would get a call and from the conversation at our end you could tell its drift. Perhaps we remembered what was said, perhaps we didn’t, but the calls simply added to the rhythm of the household.
If there was a call from my grandmother in Mexico City, we could tell it was long distance because the excitement in my dad’s voice let us know it was her. If it was my grandmother in Alaska, again the voices seemed to rise louder because it was long distance, as if shouting in the phone allowed the caller and all the Eskimoes to hear better. If it was a friend asking for help on homework or a friend asking us to spend the night, we all knew and anticipated what each other’s plans would be. There was a comfortable predictability to making and receiving phone calls from the home line plugged into a wall jack.
Then enter, the portable phone. Fast forward 30 years.
“I’m in the bathroom! Can’t come to the phone…” Too late.
My daughter cheerfully handed it to me while I was sitting on the toilet. I was mortified and blushed. To try to explain to her, “please don’t do that” fell on deaf ears, not to mention there was someone “on the line”. There was no understanding my discomfort or modesty. Good grief!
The portable phone also brought the never ending phone call. When Daughter #1 came home from school the phone rang, she answered, walked into her room and from there through sheer phone savy she took one call after another never having to hang up. You see, one call yielded to another thanks to call waiting, then group call, then back to call waiting so the conversation started at 4:30 and never ended until dinner, then it geared back up again until 9:00, curfew time on the phone!!! At least that rule was understood.
Then there were phone pagers. We never allowed our daughter to have one, so naturally several surfaced into our house. They did not belong to her, they belonged to friends of hers who let her “borrow” them. One time, Mama Grinch just took it and hid it. Clearly, Mama G did not have a plan. Daughter fretfully looked for the “thing” that was supposed to have been smuggled into the house, so as far as she knew I knew nothing about it. When she could stand it no longer she asked, “Has anyone seen the pager Ashley loaned me?”
Mama Grinch was so smart and so very slick, that she thought up a lie and thought it up quick.
“Huh? What pager?”
After a week, Mama Grinch allowed it to magically reappear without fear …under daughter’s bed way up against the wall… and all was right with her world again…all. But, all was not right with Mama G’s world.
I Mama Grinch was sly and deceitful in this game of hide and seek.
I must stop this *whole* thing! Why, for fifty-three weeks I’ve put up with it now. I must stop pagers from coming… but how?”
Technoville was on the first floor. We didn’t allow a TV or an individual computer in the bedrooms upstairs.
Every teen down in Technoville liked these toys a lot, but Mama Grinch, who lived in the same house – did not. She hated all this stuff – the whole techno scene – she knew, she just knew it was only stuff.
Then there were cell phones. The revolution got worse. Not only were calls not coming to a wall jack, they came to the person who “owned” the phone…Daughter #1 had a job. How
Mama Grinch she longed for sharing our calls, the ones we made and the ones we received. She didn’t dare ask who called or who someone called. The owner of that phone let her know about trespassing. Wasn’t trespassing something that occurred out of the home house, something you did on someone else’s property?
Now, please don’t ask why; no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that Mama Grinch’s shoes were too tight. Or it could be that her head wasn’t screwed on just right.
And those ear phones that proudly proclaim to the world, “I do not have time for you and cannot listen or even hear you right now.” Stop.
Mama Grinch hated this stuff. And I think that the most likely reason of all… may have been that her heart was two sizes too small. But, whatever the reason, her heart or her shoes, she stood there in Technoville knowing all that stuff wasn’t enough.
No, I do not want an alien gadget for Christmas.
What if Christmas, she thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
This Sunday I will tell you what I do want for Christmas.
green lines adapted from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss