“You called three times but didn’t leave a message, is everything ok?” my mother asks. Confession: I regularly hang up on my mom’s outgoing phone message because she gives excruciating instructions on waiting for beeps, admonishes you to speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and requires you to give the date and time of your call. A former teacher, she insists on educating people on leaving proper voicemail.
But on this occasion I’m certain I didn’t call at all, let alone three times. I look at my caller ID log and sure enough I have telephoned my mother thrice within a ten-minute period this morning. The Benadryl I took for a cold must’ve made me groggy and blurred my recall.
A couple of hours later, I receive a message from my old Avon Lady announcing light blue shimmery eyeshadows just came in and how shocked she was to hear from me after more than 30 years. I’m also kinda shocked, envisioning her hobbling up to front porches at age 75, ringing doorbells, gleefully shouting, “Ding Dong, Avon calling!”
Minutes after we disconnect, my long lost Tupperware gal calls, claiming mere moments ago I telephoned her but promptly hung up when she answered. She wants to know if the reason I’m currently reaching out is to schedule a Tupperware party? “Does the word ‘Ziploc’ mean anything to you?” I ask.
What’s the deal with my cellphone and the 1970’s throwbacks? If I’m butt-dialing people, my ass is way behind the times.
Suspicious, I carefully set my mobile device flush on the kitchen table and scrutinize it cautiously as I eat my cottage cheese w/pineapple and lime jello. It behaves itself and doesn’t dial up Dorothy Hamil or Billy Jean King. Just a nondescript, innocent dark screen.
Just as I swallow the last of the curds, suddenly my cellphone emanates an ominous glow and a notification pops up stating, “1 outgoing call.” Seriously?? This was no pocket or purse dial! Paging Rod Serling.
I click on it to see the name Layla Down, a woman I loathe. For one thing, she always asks, “Who died?” just because I wear the color black a lot. And she pointed her finger at my youngest daughter Natalie for the lice infestation in the 6th grade. “Nitty Natty” sticks to this day. I shudder, anticipating what’s next and sure enough, it rings right on cue with the big fat phony Layla on the other end of the line.
Me: Nitty Nat’s mom speaking, how may I help you?
Layla: My, my, what a droll sense of humor you still have. So when’s the funeral? Actually I’m returning your call, Sugar.
Me: Uh, I never called you, Sweet Tart.
Layla: I have proof that you did, Sucralose.
Me: Think again, Sweet‘N Low.
Layla: Better wash your daughter’s hair, Aspartame.
We went on like this until we used up all the sarcastic (saccharin) terms of endearments and began repeating a few. Click. Maybe this was Siri’s revenge for when I let her nearly drown in the washing machine?
During the next week, my cellphone honed its interpersonal skills, not only making random embarrassing calls all on its own accord, (old boyfriends, old dentists, dead people) but it actually started efficiently connecting people together from my online address book via its 3-way conference calling feature!
It introduced my following Contacts to each other:
- My gynecologist to my Rabbi
- Dr. Harris, my cocker-spaniel’s vet to Harrison, a cocky Vietnam vet
- My handyman Richard to Betty, a broken-down divorcee
- My Weight Watcher leader to my chocoholic friend
- My divorce attorney to my wedding planner
- My hairstylist to my friend Nan, the Nun
- My life coach to my son’s football coach
- Sherman, a needy guy I dated (and wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy) to Layla
- My therapist to my Mother (so she could analyze why nobody leaves her voicemail?)
And when I saw the newest popular trend on the market — a clear plastic food storage container (with a burping seal) filled with frosted lipsticks, I knew the Phantom of the Cellphone could take all the credit for striking again. He’d actually gone and hooked up my Tupperware Gal with my Avon Lady. Bravo!