Grounded From Your Own Cellphone?!

1e90696ff70a925f211d2c9e5d1d2b32It happens every single time.  I confiscate my teens’ cellphones (completely warranted and justifiable for their wrongdoings, believe me!) when inevitably I hear their incredibly plaintive (although there’s nothing plain about these dramatic waterworks!) wailings, “This is a fate worse than death. Not fair! Adults NEVER get their cell phones taken away from them — even though they abuse the privilege constantly.”

Never say “NEVER,” kids!

The next time I ground my kids from their electronics, I include myself in the same disciplinary action. Mainly to prove how much it builds character, but also out of curiosity and determination that I can survive it too!

After our three cellphones commune together in a locked trunk, (plus our laptops, iPads, notebooks, Kindles etc. because if you’re gonna build character you might as well go for constructing a superhero!) I hand the only key to our friendly mailman, (don’t ask!) and decide to keep a diary.

LIFE WITHOUT A CELLPHONE 

Day 1 – Dear Diary, the first thing I’ve noticed is that I really miss carrying a chunky, firm, substantial object that weighs me down in a reassuring self-important kind of way. How to fix? Easy Peasy Verizon Easy! I’ll just substitute a nice, shiny, heavy stone inside my jacket’s zippered pouch. Voilà!

Day 2 – Because it’s just after the holidays, today all my girlfriends show off their sleek, new gleaming technology stocking-stuffers at coffee . . . “I got an iPhone 7!” “I got a Blackberry Passport!” “I got a Samsung Galaxy.” All eyes focus expectantly on me as I slowly extract a stone-age “device” from my coat pocket and bemoan, “I got a rock.” I’ll credit Charlie Brown later, when I’m not feeling so dejected.

Day 3 – Today I announced I was going without a cellphone indefinitely to some other mothers at the gym. “Oh but your poor, pathetic family. None of them will ever be able to get a hold of you now!” pointed out one frazzled mom on a treadmill, obviously trying to empathize with my dire plight. I gave her my “seriously?” look, then burst into hysterical laughter while maniacally rubbing my hands together and gleefully repeating, “Yes, yes, YES!”

Day 4 – Tonight I silently remind myself what a newfound sense of freedom I now have! Like a little tyrant, a cellphone just barges into the middle of everything — eating, sleeping, important conversations, blogging, sex, cleaning, jogging, cooking… “You don’t clean, jog, or cook!” shout my resentful children from the hallway. How could they have heard my thoughts, I wonder?  Then I realize — even though I don’t have a silver rectangular gadget to dictate into, (out of force of habit) I must still be unconsciously talking aloud to myself. “That’s right! You are!” they retort again. “You’re not our mother. You’re like a wacky, homeless person now.”

Day 5 – Today I have been informed that even a wacky, homeless person’s children would have cellphones.

Day 6 – I was right. This experience IS building character for me!  In fact TWO very well-rounded characters! Because I suddenly have a new story idea where the antagonist grounds the protagonist from using her cellphone, causing her to lose her pics, her appointments, her to-do list, her friends, her lover, her memories, her mind, and her life! It’s a Sci-Fi Porno. The only problem is I have nothing to write it on. Normally I type my good ideas inside the little yellow notepad icon on my homepage screen.

Day 7 – Ha! All you other people out there are getting brain tumors, crashing your cars while texting, being eavesdropped on by Big Brother, and getting blackmailed for sexting — while I sit here innocently relaxing and eating some healthy fruit. How many calories are in Sour Grapes anyhow?

Day 8 – I prop myself up on my elbows and stare begrudgingly at our family’s two pet parakeets, blithely Tweeting back and forth to each other.

Day 9 – Does Facebook ever send out a search party when people go missing in action? Maybe it’s gone past that point now. A Facebook Funeral! Complete with a newsfeed obituary, eulogy comments, and privacy options so my burial won’t be broadcast live or made public. Just please “Poke” me first, Facebook — to make absolutely sure I’m completely lifeless before sending me 6 feet under with a musically accompanied slideshow of the highlights of my Posting Years.

Day 10 – What am I thinking??  “There’s nothing I used to do on my cellphone that I cannot still do in real life!” I console myself by endlessly repeating this mantra. Where’s that old cork bulletin board in the garage?  Here it is!  I viciously stab it with pushpins, hanging up scores of photos carelessly ripped from home decorating magazines. Take that! And that! Who needs Pinterest??

Day 11 – Today I couldn’t recruit a single soul to play the boardgame, “Scrabble” with me at our kitchen table. I wonder if I’ve been automatically resigned from my “Words With Friends” opponents yet?

Day 18 – Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written an entry in here, but I’ve been busy searching for things to put together for a Cellphone Substitution Survival Kit which will replace almost everything my iPhone 6 used to do!  Turns out I’m gonna be just fine, thanks to the fact that I still own: a landline rotary phone, an answering machine, a typewriter, a radio, 3 wristwatches, a pedometer, a polaroid camera, a bank checkbook (with deposit slips!) a Rand McNally folded roadmap, local take-out restaurant menus, a kitchen timer, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a calculator, a flashlight, a calendar, a compass, a do-not-disturb sign, a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a cookbook, The Yellow Pages phonebook, and a tooth that’s blue — not to mention I have an obedient friend named Sari, which is close enough to Siri. The only thing I couldn’t recreate was having an object to put on “airplane mode.” Oh! And I still long for the sound and sensation of a gizmo that buzzes in my purse. However now that I think about it, I sense an even more enjoyable contraption to fill my “vibrating void” will be quickly (forth)coming. (Ahem, you didn’t just read that here on my G-rated blog!)

Day 19 – Today (and only for my poor, uncreative children’s sake, of course!) it’s finally time to put an end to this lifelong lesson and reclaim our cellphones. I triumphantly make the announcement and am immediately rewarded with lots of appreciative cheers. (The loudest of which are mine.) We all gather around the locked trunk to ceremoniously open it and retrieve our precious electronic “friends.”

Oh dear, I think to myself (but somehow my kids still hear me?) — our friendly mailman possesses the one and only key to our cellphone jail and he’s gone on vacation. We can’t even text or call him. That’s right, there’s only one way to reach a US Postal Service worker . . .

And to think I don’t even own a stamp, an envelope, or a pen to put in my Cellphone Survival Kit.

Dear Readers:  What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without using your cellphone? Disastrous or peaceful?

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The Phantom of The Cellphone!

-font-b-phantom-b-font-of-the-opera-fashion-original-cell-phone-case-cover-for“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!

The Death of The Garage Sale

Make-money-selling-clothes-onlineGoodbye to Rummage Sales and Farewell to Estate Auctions! The cellphone has killed them off! That’s right, of all the free Apps you can download, there is none more ingeniously convenient than the one that allows you to make an appointment to invite local strangers to your home, knock on your door and promptly hand you cash for your trash, err I mean your used items.

I got so excited when someone told me about these apps (with names like Close 5, Nearby, and Shop/Swap/Plop/Drop (okay, I made that last one up) that I downloaded ten different ones.

It didn’t take long to notice that the same adverbs were repeatedly used to describe all aspects of my neighborhood’s resale merchandise. Everything was “Gently” worn or “Lightly” used or “Gingerly” sat upon. Where were all the items that had the living crap beat out of them, like the junk I needed to get rid of from my basement? “Designer Heels Slightly Walked In!” Seriously? Nobody tiptoed gracefully around our home in their sneakers. No, they stomped and romped, scuffed and roughed until a pair of Keds had zero treads and was reduced to mere threads.

Even the garbage collector would turn their nose up at our offerings and Goodwill would remind me that the emphasis should be on the word, “Good.”

Nonetheless being a writer, I caught on quickly about how to profile my stuff so I could competitively advertise with the best of ’em. For instance – – My great Aunt Martha’s badly scratched chest (but she once had a nice set of bosoms) with six drawers (stuck in the “pulled out” position) and made of pinkish particle board instantly became:

“An artistically etched antique rosewood bureau (french words always add class!) containing a half dozen open display shelves to showcase your negligees!”

when I got through listing the ad. My cellphone buzzed with interest and a full price offer was promptly made.

I learned two words to include in all my little ads that are guaranteed to elevate anything old, outdated and ugly into something special.  “Vintage” and “Retro.” Why my own face, eyes, hands, complexion and butt can’t be described similarly is beyond me but regardless, I’m grateful for the inanimate object glorification these two terms provide so that I can get top dollar for my great Aunt Martha’s hand-me-downs.

I also take a tip from real marketers and list many of my items with exciting tag lines like, “Brought back by popular demand!” (this was written about my king-sized mattress) or “Buy this and get another one free!” (I use this with things that normally come in pairs, like gloves and bookends.) But my favorite tagline is, “Help me remove the excess Junk in my Trunk!”

Meeting the suckers  people in the flesh who were about to fork over their hard-earned cash for my old shlocky wedding gifts (forget that the ink on my marriage license has long dried up, hell our divorce decree is completely yellowed from 20 years of being framed and hung on a sunny wall) was a fascinating experience. We are talking highly motivated buyers here.

After going to the trouble of borrowing their friend’s large SUV vehicle, programming my address into their GPS, then standing awkwardly in my living room while my six kids watched hopefully, praying this purchase would put them firmly into Disneyland territory, (and knowing they could run into me again in our local grocery market) were these strangers really going to say, “On second thought. That’s the grossest thing that’s ever been born into the second-hand consignment market. I’ve changed my mind. Goodbye!”

No Siree, baby!  If these people bid on something online, you can consider it SOLD! (Too bad online dating doesn’t work that way.)

However imagine my surprise when last week, I read the description of a piece of furniture that I just knew I had to have. It was an “armoire!” It was teakwood! It had ample storage! It was a “Designer’s Delight!” So I raced over to the address with the money I had just obtained from selling my mattress burning a hole in my pocket, jogged up their driveway, pounded excitedly on their door — only to look past the expectant eyes of their darling children and see that it was my old great Aunt Martha’s cruddy chest, with a new coat of paint on it.

“Well, hope you have fun at Disneyland, kids!” I said and handed over a crisp $100 bill.

Tomorrow I’m putting an ad up in Craigslist.  It will be for a Garage Sale so I can properly palm this thing off onto somebody else the old-fashioned way.

 

 

 

 

10 Reasons People Won’t Leave You Voicemail!

  1. cell-phone-messageThey are convinced you’re not really as busy as your message claims and will just keep calling back as many times as it takes until you pick up. And you will, won’t you?
  2. You have a completely boring and unimaginative outgoing message. It mentions your name, gives the number they just dialed (even though they can plainly see it on their own cell-screen) and discusses the sound of the beep. Dullsville.
  3. They suspect you replay their messages at important board meetings, incessantly rewinding the part where they clear their throat, while your coworkers get hysterical.
  4. TEXTING. Nothing more needs to be said. Okay, here’s something more: Phones are no longer fun if you must use them for the original purpose they were invented for.
  5. They have low self-esteem and don’t think their voice is recording-worthy.
  6. It’s going to be a highly personal and private message, perhaps even sexual in nature, and they don’t want anyone else to accidentally overhear it. They don’t even want you, the person it’s intended for, to listen to it.
  7. It’s totally a misdialed, wrong number — but they can’t wait for the beep because they’re late for a date with another hot little number.
  8. They’re vindictive and take great pride in getting back at you for stating they should speak slowly and distinctly, spell their last name, and heaven forbid you requested they leave the date and time of their call.
  9. They presumed you would certainly pick up (at least for them!) and are caught off guard, unprepared to state the reason for the call, which truthfully is — there is no legitimate reason for the call. But now that you’ve rejected them by not answering live, they’re going to torture you with an “Unknown Number” that lingers in your caller ID log for weeks, along with a long, deadly silence. Take that!
  10. It’s an old lover from your distant past, calling every so often just to hear your recorded voice and reminisce in their mind’s eye about that night on the dance floor when you pretended you knew the words to The Macarena, (You do know the meaning of the English translation, right?) or whispered together in a glitzy discotheque, “Do The Hustle!” And then actually did it. Together. Wasn’t that a lovely, innocent time in your life? Why don’t you pick up your own cellphone and call this person back so the two of you can stroll down memory lane. And if you get their voicemail, you know what to do at the beep . . . hang up!

And here’s my little New Year’s gift to you so that you’ll get more people who WILL leave you communications in a recorded fashion. Simply Click  HERE and pick your favorite snippet to use as your new outgoing message.

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10 New Uses For Old Phone Booths

bt-artbox-benjamin-shine-box-lounger1-600x3701NYC has removed the actual telephones in their booths and installed Wi Fi hubs instead.

Here are my ideas for some other ways to repurpose a Phone Booth. Just deposit 4 quarters, enter the compartment and do your thing. Think of all the revenue the city makes!

  1. Time-Out Booths for Your Misbehaving Kids. Sit them firmly down in the bean-bag chair, holding a sign stating, “I was naughty so now I’m in Time-Out.” (Also helps reinstate the word “naughty” as parent admonishment and not just for vocabulary in the BDSM community.)
  2. Fan-Filled – Cooling devices installed on all four sides and the ceiling expressly for menopausal women who need to tame a hot-flash. Or for glamour models on their way to photographer’s studios requiring that sexy, tousled-haired look, but who are too cheap to invest in wind-blowing machines.
  3. Weigh-Station. For dieters who need to step on a scale to see if they should go for the New York style pizza or just stick to sushi.
  4. “I Just Need a Moment” – a comfy chair and curtains for when you feel embarrassed and would like some privacy. After you’ve stepped on the scale in #3 would be just such an example. “Sushi it is!”
  5. Pre-Dental Booth – – Equipped with mini-sink, disposable toothbrush, paste, and floss. Because you can’t just show up for your hygienist and immediately demand to brush your teeth before your routine cleaning, can you? That’s cheating!
  6. A Mirror with a built-in hairdryer Stall– – For all the times you run out of the house with damp hair. Talking mirror utters the following phrases, “Snow White is the fairest of them all.” Or “Hey, nice blow-job!” Or dispenses a single white glove while singing, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror / I’m asking him to change his ways / And no message could have been any clearer… la la la la”
  7. A Casket — Leave the original telephone inside and turn the phone booth horizontally on the ground with a silk lining and a sobering sign proclaiming, “Here lies the reason we used to be able to say, “Here’s a dime – Go call someone who cares!” It’s The Death of the Pay Phone.
  8. Costume Changing Station – – Hang a red cape with a big “S’ on it and a pair of nerdy glasses for all those Clark Kent wannabees. “It’s a bird, it’s a plane . . . “
  9. A pinball machine or a Jukebox — Just to remind us that these objects are even more archaic than telephone booths.
  10. “It’s Alive!” Alcove — Fill it with water, add lobster, crab and salmon and drape a fishing pole over the top with a sign, “Teach a man to fish . . . ” Alternatively, turn it into a cage with a talking parrot that screeches, “ET, Phone home!”

OR . . . Just leave it vacant with a sign stating, “Please go inside and shut the door so when you jabber incessantly on your cellular device, the rest of us don’t have to be subjected to your divorce proceedings, your grocery list, or the lab results from your physician.

(And by the way, I overheard your cholesterol numbers . . . better stick to the sushi tonight.)