When I was a kid and the phone would ring during dinner, my mom would glare at the harvest gold wall mount and yell, “DON’T answer it!” She’d then lower her voice. “Pretend we’re not home,” she’d whisper as if the caller could hear her. According to Mom, there was an appropriate time and place to be connected to the outside world via that 10-foot tangled cord.
Dinner was not one of them.
In the 70s, when it was time to make a long distance call to Grandma, Mom would watch the clock until 7 p.m. when AT&T dropped the rates to fifty-cents a minute. “Talk fast!” Mom would admonish me in the background as the bill ticked higher with every tick of the clock. “Just write a letter!” she’d finally screech as she grabbed the phone from me and slammed it down. If the end-of-the-month budget was especially tight, Mom wasn’t opposed to ringing up Grandma at 11 p.m., when the rates went to a quarter a minute. Although at that time of night we could talk longer, as I recall the musings of a seven-year-old at that hour could not compete with Grandma’s obsession with Johnny Carson’s monologue.