Confession: I sincerely do not like talking on the phone.
Admittedly, some laugh when they hear this and question my sincerity, because apparently I like to talk in general. Or, according to some shrewd (mean) observers, I like not to shut up.
But those are two different things and deserve clarification.
So, clarified: I do not relish talking on the phone because I cannot see the other person’s eyes, or hands. Accordingly I do not know if those body parts are being rolled or otherwise gesticulated unbeknownst, and therefore I might miss out on cues that quite clearly say (without actually saying) that I can stick a sock in it any time now.
Also, I do not like the sound of my own voice. I realize this is a common complaint, but I happen to think I would trade voices with 90 percent of the population and so have an especially pronounced case of whatever this brand of self-loathing is. Doesn’t stop me from talking but does give me pause on a telephone because, again, can’t see the other face recoiling in certain horror as the attached ears realize this is quite possibly THE worst voice they have ever heard for as long as they have ever lived.
Hence, I like to say, text me. Email me. Write me a letter. Write me a poem. A sonnet. Or a love song. Write me anything at all. Just try not to call me if you can help it.
Then why am I one of the lessening number of folks who still have a landline and a cellular line? (See related story on this page.) Well, No. 1., because I love my mother, and she has expressed a lack of faith in sole reliance on something largely battery-operated and so portable. In other words, in an emergency, perhaps not requiring 911 but requiring, well, me, who can guarantee I’ll be reachable what with my track record for leaving my pieces behind, for letting my batteries go dead and for general moaning and groaning that my technology loves to gang up on me?
Something permanently hooked into a wall that rarely, if ever, fails is more reassuring.
I’ve so far capitulated. Mom is usually right anyway.
It also so happens that I grew up in a house with not one but two landlines and therefore a meaty phone-book entry that inspired a small measure of pride. One listing was for my father, and the other was for “Snyder, Children.” Now who else had that sort of coolness in the rockin’ and rollin’ 1970s and ’80s, I ask?
Friends would inquire: How do you call your mom? “Either/or,” I’d say, though really she was “Children” too, but all those words wouldn’t fit in the book, and we outnumbered her, so …
Plus, the “Snyder” father line was more of a business line, over which he refrained from his favorite greeting, generally employed when he answered our landline: “Magillicutty’s Mortuary; you stab ‘em, we slab ‘em.” Yeah, he knew he had an amazed but delighted audience of offspring.
Ah, maybe it’s the memories I associate with the good-old landline that keep me hanging on.
And I really don’t mind that heavy book tossed on my lawn. Sometimes I imagine opening to the S’s and still seeing our standout extended listing on the dense, gray page.
But I’m caving, I’ll tell you. In the past week alone, I’ve had no fewer than six calls come in on my cell from people wanting me to buy, give or dial back immediately on the urgent matter of, say, lowering my monthly mortgage interest.
But this is my CELL, I stress. For such you must call my home phone — because that is the number I largely ignore; I even still pay, begrudgingly, an extra $8 per month for Caller ID, so I know I can ignore it.
If this is a whole new ballgame, though, and my mobile number is out there, on the loose in the world, I might finally save myself the extra expense and cut the land cord for good.
Just don’t be surprised if you dial my cell and I greet you by the name Magillicutty.