Direct Line

So, we finally have a landline again, and boy is it bringing back memories. I grew up in those days of yore when everyone IN THE ENTIRE FAMILY had to rely on just that one feeble rotary phone chained to the wall.

If you were very lucky, your phone had a cord that was long enough that you could putter around the kitchen while you talked. Otherwise, you were shackled to the table or a spot on the floor within arm’s length of the phone, actually paying FULL attention to the person on the other end.

There was no such thing as answering machines or call waiting or even Star 69 back then. If someone wanted to talk to you and you weren’t home, well, that was just tough shit for everyone involved. If one person in the house was waiting for a call, everyone else was screwed, plain and simple.

And if a boy wanted to call one of the girls in my house, he only had a one in five chance of getting the right girl to pick up the phone when he worked up the courage to dial.

From a place of love and respect, I must confess that my sisters and I all went through a pretty comprehensive geek phase – my younger sister worked it out and was very nearly named homecoming queen while my older sister enjoyed a reprieve in her later high school years, compliments of a job at a makeup store that taught her everything she needed to know about looking cool.

I, in contrast, took a job at a burger joint, which is probably why I’m STILL in my geek phase.

My older sister was just on the verge of transitioning out of The Geekies when the phone rang one evening. She’d mentioned at the dinner table that she’d talked to a boy at school – since we didn’t have brothers and we were all geeks, boys as a species were strange and mysterious creatures. Even a passing ‘hello’ in the school hallways was worth a mention.

On the second ring, my younger sister (who would have been around 10 years old at the time) dived for the phone, eager to try out her newly acquired phone etiquette.

“Hello?” she answered, filled with self-importance. A moment later, her eyes flew open. Holding the voice piece of the receiver about three millimetres away from her mouth, she whisper-screamed to my older sister across the room.

“It’s for YOU! It’s a BOY!”

The next several minutes saw the three of us huddled around the phone, my younger sister and I astounded that our heroic elder sibling had managed to attract the attention of a real live actual boy, and not just a boy but a boy that was brave enough to call our house knowing full well there was a 20% chance my dad would answer.

Ah, the good old days – you don’t see courage like THAT anymore.

6 thoughts on “Direct Line

  1. Are you also old enough to remember George Carlin asking? … “Whenever you’re dialing the telephone, do you ever leave your finger in that little hole, just so you can give it the free ride back??!!”

  2. Great one again Laura. Same thing in my house, but we were only 2 girls and one single mom. We never had the long cord in France. This is the first thing I bought my mother when I first went to the US. What an improvement this was for her!

  3. We haven’t had a land-line for the past 7 years! Just seemed pointless as mobiles do it all …even TV I believe! Not gone as far as having an iphone yet as I’m sure Id be addicted and also the kiddos! But I do often look back at the days when the land-line was the way to go. Try a phone ringing in a house where you’re the only daughter…….man the eyebrows that raised if and when it was a guys voice!

  4. Oh, I can’t imagine! How you survived THAT is a miracle! Especially living with a load of Irish men! Diar is a brave one…

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