The Telephone

by Admiral Halsey on March 12, 2010

The late 60's Saigon Palate

In my mind, the Platonic form of the phone is the one I recall growing up. Sitting on a walnut side table, just to the side of a dusty plastic bonsai tree, it’s baby blue color, rotary dial and filthy coiled cord, formed its near lithic presence. I think of it now in stone-like terms, perhaps an exquisitely rendered piece of Native American (though in those days and in that geographical local, we woulda called it Indian) turquoise. We held the object is a faded version of reverence: phone did not get a lot of use, expense, whether real or imagined, drove the minutes one could spend talking. Or not… “It’s your dime, let’s talk the whole night through.” Or there was the emotional expense, usually incurred when a parent’s drunk sibling might call to discuss a newly rediscovered love for the parent and want to set the night on firewater while rekindling that fire. I was limited to “Hello Grandma, yes Grandma, I love you Gramma, here’s Dad.”

Later, there were the after school or Saturday night sleep over prank call marathons. How many pairs of Levi’s did I have to hide on the bottom of the laundry bin after some of those?

And, of course, there was the obligatory phone hacking experiment after having read Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book.  (Which, despite my mother’s heartfelt, soulful-eyed pleas for me to feel comfortable telling her anything, … And then forbidding me to read even a borrowed copy, I knew I had to order it from the local Pickwick chain store in the Broadway mall and then hide it in the garage closet, hidden behind the 10 year old cans of Rust-O-Leum paint and devour it cover to cover. The free long distance calls came to an end by the end of my junior year with a call from Pacific Bell’s Toni Lenhert. Just a single vowel, the A, separated her from dominatrix and compassionate.

Take them or leave them, I could only leave phones as they were all anchored physically by a cord or booth.

Fast forward to the present day. The Fucking Telephone. The telephone now takes us. Freed from wires, buildings, and booths, we can now talk while driving, eating, shitting, arguing with a grocery clerk, fucking, meeting with a doctor, viewing art in a museum, even getting stopped by the highway patrol for talking while combing your hair while smacking the kids in the back seat while driving.

Guilty as charged. While standing in package pickup line at the local post office, I recall being admonished by a fellow package seeker  for having a knock down drag out argument on my mobile. I think this experience woke me up to the idea that just because the phone was making noise didn’t mean that I had to respond. No one wants to hear your conversations. Even the most entrenched and experience starved  voyeur would rather poke his ears out with street-sharpened popsicle sticks than hear your inanities. Fuck no they don’t want to relive your petty trespasses with you. Oh, did I say no one ? Actually, I meant NO ONE.

I may not be a quick study, but I got it. The phone rings and I don’t answer while I’m in line at the Burger King, waiting to get my paper crown and a bag full of Quarter Pounders.

I believe it’s National Hit Your Phone with a Ball Peen Hammer Year, so why not get started early?

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