When I was a little girl who thought she was old enough to be a grown-up, I started getting and giving phone calls. I loved that glossy white wall mounted magical machine. I loved the way it would sing it’s ring throughout the house. Jingling with the urgency of unknown adventures at the other end. I would come flying down the flight of stairs, sliding around the linoleum clad corner, snatching the receiver from it’s vertical cradle; breathlessly greeting the possibilities, only to have to hand it over to someone else. Or on the rare occasion that it was for me, scream for whoever to hang up the other extension. As I leaned gratefully against the wall I would slide down, pull my knees to my chest and twirl the cord around my fingers as the conversation unfolded into my ear. I was happy to spend hours chatting idly or absorbing long awkward teenage moments together in silence. The home phone was a family fixture; literally and figuratively. Now, it faces extinction.
I grew up in a small town. As you may know, entertainment is tough to come by, I had to make it myself. I am not proud of this, well, I’m a little proud of it, even though I know it was wrong…on more than one lazy afternoon I let my fingers to the walking through our local phone book. I searched for names that made me laugh; and farm towns have plenty of rural names…Caspers, Kuntz and Balls. My girlfriends and I would double over laughing at badly made fridge and nose running jokes. We thought they were the funniest thing that could’ve happened, at least on a boring Tuesday in the rumpus room.
My Momma, however, didn’t see the genius in these pranks. When the phone rang with a giggling girl or cheeky chap poised to prank, she would whistle into the mouthpiece. Now, this was no ordinary whistle; it was renowned throughout the neighbourhood. In the evenings instead of a dinner bell, my brother and I were summoned with the shrill whistle shriek, sending us running home, no matter what we were doing or where we were. Imagine directing that kinda power into the ears of an unsuspecting jokester…needless to say, we were not pranked by the same joker twice. And at school the next day I would hear about how much their ears were still ringing.
When I got my first cell phone, I still had a landline. A cheap phone that played the Rocky theme, and I loved it. It was also the way I got internet. I can’t even remember when I stopped using a wall mounted communicator. Or when text messages became a mainstay. I am confused at how I migrated without realizing it. Almost like flying south on autopilot, only more like a Smartphone. I am inadvertently helping to kill the landline. If that happens here are some of my big concerns: Where will my kids get phone calls from their school friends? How old will they be before asking me for a cell of their own? And at what point will tele-communications become an implant ? For now, I can’t worry about all those futuristic details, I can only love that olde-timey feeling when I am tied to the wall at my parent’s house, where I pace. It reminds me to be thankful for the freedom of my wireless. And though I am sad the hard wired telephone is dying, I can’t stop progress single-handedly. But at least now I can talk hands-free.