Telecommunication Follies

[SCENE: INT, MY PARENTS’ HOUSE]

As I am walking from the kitchen to the guest room with my early afternoon pear, the house phone rings. Hesitation strikes me.

I don’t really live here anymore, do I have authority to answer this?

The phone rings again. I go for broke and pick up the receiver.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Jim. [CALLER REALIZES AS THEY ARE SAYING THIS THAT I AM NOT MY DAD] Uh, Jim? Is Jim there?”

“[CHILDHOOD PAVLOVIAN PHONE ETIQUETTE KICKS IN] He’s not available right now, may I take a message?”

“Is your mother there?”

Cue misplaced rage.

Oh, I see how it is. You can tell my dad and you can tell my mom but you can’t tell me. You know, I’m thirty-four. I’ve been to Boise. I have a general idea about what’s going on in the world. But fine, have it your way. Keep your secrets. I’ll just stick to my script.

“She’s not available either, may I take a message?”

“Yeah, tell ’em [REDACTED] called. [RECITES PHONE NUMBER AT INCOMPREHENSIBLE SPEED]”

The line clicks dead the second a pencil reaches my fingertips. I feel a sense of failure until I realize it’s 2013 and my parents have Caller ID.

“This parental acquaintance has been bested,” I whisper to my pear.

[END SCENE]

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