Monday, December 1, 2008

Telephones: An Instrument of Satan


I'm not sure when I realized I'd become a zealot for a cell-phone-only existence. Yet not long ago, bit by bit, I reasoned that functioning land lines, cordless phones or answering machines were wholly unnecessary; perhaps such obsequious devices were to be considered actual instruments of self-harm. All these multiple and clingy communication implements were just another way - like email- that crazy people could touch me.

I felt strongly that one reliably sketchy cell phone for a family of two was a perfect, sleek system. It worked well enough (from my viewpoint) until recently, when key persons in my life rose up into a small mob, insisting I arrange for a minimum of one phone to be functional in my life at all times.

Just one phone, they said, faces purple with religion.

I thought and I thought, and then I remembered the 1990 Sanyo Princess.

“Just in case”, I'd long ago retained one "real" landline phone, cached in my garage for Emergencies. It's a quaint, bone-white princess phone with all the modern conveniences of Touch Tone, but it isn't cordless. It's bloody crammed with cords. A vintage electronic, it has a very long cable that plugs right into the wall (!), whereupon something called a Dial Tone always happens; phone calls always go straight through, without going dead, dropping, crackling like an electrical storm, playing hard to get, or coyly dying just at the moment of urgent verbal consummation.

The Princess has a very ornate, curly white cord, which connects the phone itself to the base of the phone. It functions 100% of the time and it is always in plain sight, in the exact same place. Can you imagine? Its very availability and staunch reliance, of course, is what drove it into the garage in the first place. The Princess was too direct, too dangerous and too incriminating to those I was trying to avoid, which was often everyone.

Sadly for the Princess – and for those like me who enjoy frequent, unexpected or expected, passive aggressive and often permanent disconnections - it's not a cell phone, so it has no distorted audio, or go-dead tricks that cell phones delight in doing, at the 'worst possible moment'.

Princess is not a cordless phone, the inexplicable lemon-phone on a worldwide basis.It’s surely no mystery now that cordless phones were designed with profit margins, treachery and ineptitude as Job One. I have two cordless phones, unreliable and moody and useless by design. They need constant electrical charging to function at all - a fact exacerbated by the way they rarely rest in their cradle correctly. They proffer a wheezy, faint and buzzing connection, despite how much one frantically dashes around the house and yard and roof, changing channels. Possessing no cord, they're irresponsible gypsies, malevolent by nature, and are easily misplaced -- being the ideal shape and size to slide between couch cushions, disappear in any garage, drawer, hamper, room or patio, and wedge themselves uncannily into random crevices.

With the Princess I may take phone calls without the prescience of Caller ID, as well. In 2008, the all but extinct element of Surprise now has a home within my Princess phone. When the Princess phone rings, I can look straight at it and have no idea who is on the other line. It’s shocking. And, oddly enough, when the Princess rings forth like a regular old-fashioned telephone, it is also completely terrifying.

I don’t like to be shocked. More and more, I see surprises as a form of violence. But the Princess will surprise me in a shrill, insistent manner – she has her plastic white heart set on it. Childlike, I am once again at the mercy of the telephone, unless I turn the ringer off and leave the answering machine detached, which I have just had the foresight to do. The Princess rang once, last night at 8 32 PM; I didn’t know who it was, and the ring sounded like a scream. That was enough.

Telephone conversations, it is safe to conclude, are vastly overrated. More than one telephone conversation has made me feel as if I needed a .12 guage rifle, or a foolproof suicide plan. The telephone is an instrument of Satan; there are plenty of telephones in Hell, on that we can rely. And they are all land lines.

20 comments:

sher said...

I knew we were soul sisters long ago on Haven's blog . . . but, Helloooo!!! Suzanne, I have rarely had the pleasure of meeting a phonophobe such as I!

Nice to meet 'cha!

My phone(s) are the BANE of my existence.

I finally had to plunge into cell phone world when I had three children in three different schools and I was in college myself. Until that time I could go to the store without being interrupted, I could live during the daylight hours . . . now I only truly LIVE in the night when not even the idiots call the cell phone.

I have a landline so that I can give a number to people so they can call my landline and I can ignore their call, their messages, and NEVER call them back! Why else? I will give my cell phone out only if it is in reference to my children (fervently hoping they NEVER call), to answer my husband's lunch time calls, and REALLY in case I want to call someone.

And the gall of people talking on their phones in stores, restaurants, the street - - I hate it, if I get a call I am ashamed and quiet (this is, astonishingly TRUE) and am, apparently, fairly rude to the caller (whilst being mouse quiet). I have another friend that agrees we should ask the one question and GET OFF THE PHONE. Better yet, send an email and set up a face-to-face and be in one another's physicality.

Phones, schmones . . . If I could figure out a workable alternative, I would do it in a heartbeat. I think I legally have to be 'contactable' until the children turn 18, then I believe I can discard ALL phones or, at the very least, make an art object out of them.

Ode to the Princess phone!

meredithwinn said...

i couldn't agree more wholeheartedly. it sounded like a scream. and that was enough for me. yup. just like that. i wrote a blog post called 'phone phobia' last year that shares this sentiment!
http://meredithwinn.wordpress.com/2008/02/24/phone-phobia/

Jerri said...

"faces purple with religion."

See genius, Suzanne.

Yes, phones are instruments of Satan. Phones without caller ID? Too horrible to contemplate. The best part about a corded phone is that it can be UNPLUGGED. Permanently.

FINNABLOG said...

i wait until my land-line answering machine is full, and then i Delete all. i love the snappy little BEEP and then the 0 that appears, like a perfect egg.

my experience is that anyone who really wants to find me, will. always.

bloodandsand said...

I have a similar relationship with mail. Hence my drawer of unopened letters.

redtexansun said...

I have a similar relationship with mail. Hence my drawer of unopened letters.

redtexansun said...

I just gave away my password - blood and sand - damn it!
I nicked it from my favourite ever beginning line in a book:-

When I lived in Mexico City at the end of the 1940's, it was a city of one million people, with clear sparkling air and the sky that special shade of blue that goes so well with circling vultures, blood and sand - the raw menacing pitiless Mexican blue.

God I love it. It's the first paragraph of 'Queer' by William Burroughs.

FINNABLOG said...

QUEER and JUNKY are two of my favorite books. William Burroughs is a genius. oh my GOD is he.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Couldn't agree more. Phones - all of them, should go straight to hell, from whence they came.

FINNABLOG said...

except my iphone. because i love it like a pet. and because i can EASIL program each person in my life who has this sacred iphone with a CUSTOM RINGTONE. so i know from across the room or without even glancing about who is on the line calling me, and i can
1 DO NOTHING
2 HIT ACCEPT CALL
3 HIT DECLINE CALL

that's magic. it's just one step shy of a telepathy-only system of audio communication on demand.

ps i always choose number 1. it's the cleanet.

xo
sf

FINNABLOG said...

as ou can see, both the Y AND THE S on my ibook are crippled. my new laptop arrives tomorrow.

Ver trul our
,
uzanne

redtexansun said...

An absolute fuckin genius is he. And funny as fuck. Queer & Junky are my faves of his too Suzy Q. I HATE sci-fi, however I love Burroughs' version of sci-fi! Kerouac duz nothin for me. Ginsberg's ok. Go Bill Burroughs though!!! [I love the way he dressed too. Those hats n' trench coats - a ha!]

FINNABLOG said...

okay, what you need to do is get the audio unabridged version of Matt Dillon reading On The Road. trust me. kerouac needs to be spoken aloud, for some. it's mesmerizing and genius. i was changed by it.

FINNABLOG said...

have you seen my homage to william burroughs on this blog? it's in the earlier posts....

redtexansun said...

yeah, I checked out your homage to our darling Burroughs & I'm rapt that we both love him coz you're one of my fave living writers! However, I really don't know if I'll get into Kerouac's "On The Road" to be honest. But I'll give the audio book a good go coz you said so...!

redtexansun said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Oops..I'm sorry.. I'm rather impatient & totally crap with technology. I'm really not that self absorbed to publish a comment twice. aaargh

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