The Boring Word About Telephones

July 10, 1985

I had a telephone conversation with a friend the other day that lasted for fifteen uninterrupted minutes. This is a fact that will undoubtedly make it into the World Book of Records.

The ring of a phone in our house opens the refrigerator door, begins the first round of a fight that lasts the length of the conversation, changes the channel on the TV, halts all homework and gives everyone the opportunity to practice sign language.

If it’s an important call the price of quiet is usually any junk food on hand, biscuits for the dog, a cover for the bird cage, an open door for the cat and a promise to let every kid in the neighborhood sleep over.

When my oldest daughter was two I remember thinking how cute she was talking on the phone to Grandma. I recorded in her baby book that she would begin to dig out my house plants when my conversation went beyond a certain point. We are now at the stage where I threaten to pull her plug if her conversations get too long.

My youngest daughter likes to negotiate for things while I’m on the phone. Last week she held my purse in her hand and explained she was going to buy something from the ice cream man and would replace the money just as soon as her tooth, which she could just barely wiggle, could be put under her pillow for the tooth fairy.

When she was two she confused the ring of the phone with the alarm clock. No matter what time of day or night or whether she had been in bed five minutes or five hours she always got up and ran around just out of reach of the extra long cord.

While my children seem to have normal reaction reflexes in most circumstances and use fairly good judgement something happens to them when the phone rings. At times they become deaf and after the fifth ring I answer, dripping wet from a relaxing bath while they continue to watch TV. On another day if I’m outside one of them might inform me from the window that the telephone is ringing. However, I can be standing just feet away from the phone and they will both make a mad dash to answer on the first ring.

For me that commercial about reach out and touch someone takes on a little different meaning.