For Whom the Phone Rings

A cell phone is an incredible invention, designed with amazing technology by intellectual minds, so that our children can talk to us in the bathroom even when we're not at home.

With high hopes for a goal of widespread family communication in the new year, I finally submitted to the cell craze and bestowed the most basic instruments upon the family, admonishing the kids that these phones should be used only in cases of dire emergency such as a vehicular crisis more severe than a broken radio knob, physical injury resulting in the use of the family health insurance, or an unbelievable shoe sale at the mall.

Minutes later I received a text message from my oldest son who was located directly across the kitchen table, typing furiously on his new phone’s keypad. During several attempts to read the message, I managed to call myself twice, change the screensaver, and turn on the speakerphone function.

“Mom, just press this button,” the Alexander Graham Bell of the electronic age reached across and tapped the keypad. With a resounding beep, the message leaped to the screen. “Pass the potatoes.”

New rule. No more text messages between people who are close enough to cut each other’s meat.

Over the next few weeks, I began to suspect that some of us were taking the definition of emergency-approved telephone use with a dose of salt large enough to increase my blood pressure. Son One called to tell me that he was tired of having chicken for supper, Son Two phoned to make sure I was aware that he knew how to make a call without dialing the actual number, and someone purporting to be the dog called to tell me he didn’t care what we were eating or when, he just wanted to be included. The digital display flashing my husband’s number gave me a clue to the culprit’s true identity. Besides, the dog is too smart to give himself away so easily; he would have had the cat make the call.

On my next trip to the mall, I visited the convenient restrooms thoughtfully located in the luau-themed food court. Hanging my purse on the pineapple, I assumed the classic public restroom hover-squat position recognizable to health-conscious women everywhere. Suddenly, the unmistakable sounds of Beethoven’s most famous four notes exploded against the ceramic walls. DA DA DA DUN!

The phone. I looked up. My purse hung tantalizingly above my head like an overripe coconut on a palm tree.

If I could kick the bottom of the bag, I could knock it from the hook to the floor and retrieve it with the toe of my imitation leather flower-bedecked thong sandal. I reached out tentatively with one shoe and immediately appreciated the disastrous results of stretching further.


An attempt to use the spare roll of toilet paper as a projectile also failed.

DA DA DA DUN! Beethoven played on, more insistent with every note.

In desperation, I lunged for my purse, grabbed it off the hook and fell back in place just as the automatic flusher sensed evacuation and commenced operations, sucking the tail of my skirt into unknown depths. I pulled the phone from the depths of its nest and flipped it open with a flourish. The caller was my firstborn son, obviously in some turmoil that only his mother could resolve.


“Mom, do we have any clean spoons?”

It figures. To me, crisis avoidance is saving my skirt from the self-flusher. To him, it’s getting a snack before CSI comes on.

Join me on Mind over Mullis for more laughs!


  1. Great piece, Amy! After asking my son twice - twice! - who he was texting with the phone we pay for, he huffed in annoyance and promptly went and joined the group, "It annoys me when my parents want to know who I'm texting" over on Facebook.

    I think his phone bill just went up.

  2. And his life expectancy just went down! Did you get the eyeroll, too? I've noticed that often accompanies the huff. Must be connected somehow.

  3. I was one of the last surviving cell phone holdouts, too. A year ago March, I got my first phone. Well, that's not entirely true. I had owned two phones before, but they don't count. They were pay as you go, and I 'went' for a month on each.

    But this last time, I was happy with my decision. It was a cute little phone and my bill was $60 a month. Doable. I could text if I wanted to, but it cost extra. I could also go online with it, but that was extra too. So my phone use really was confined to mild emergencies.

    Then my husband lost his job, and with it he lost his phone. New job came, and he decided we both needed iPhones. I am still trying to figure out how I went form one little phone at $60 a month to two iPhones that do everything except the laundry at the "low-low price" of $220 a month!

  4. For $220, it would not only have to do my laundry, it would have to pick up my dry cleaning, and flush my toilet. I still have pay as you go, and the volume button is where I naturally put my thumb to hold the phone so I end up muting whoever I talk to. Works great with teenagers!

  5. Amy, this post is a gem! Funny, funny stuff.

  6. Thanks Janna! I missed you while you were on vacation!

  7. Just remind them - if you're close enough to cut their meat, then you're close enough to cut their throat.

  8. LOVE this post! Especially the details like comparing the phone to an overripe coconut! I'm not there....yet. I'm still trying to keep mine from crawling under the bathroom stalls. Phones will be in the near future though. Thanks for the laugh!

  9. Tom, you are a very wise man.

    JLC--We've gotta laugh to let 'em live long enough to support us. 'Course that plan's not exactly working out for me, either.

  10. Oh my goodness, I had to read this to my co-workers, it's too, too, too hilarious!

    Is this the one that won honorable mention in the Erma contest?

  11. Me either, Amy. One son works at Home Depot. And while the other one is actually in pre-med, I think he intends to relocate and not give me his forwarding information once he graduates med school.

  12. Love it, Amy. I'm a cell phone loather myself... I really just don't want to be that "connected." I've thus far sent exactly one text message in my life, and I hope not to break that record anytime soon.

  13. I think we have the beginnings of a cell-phone revolt here! We'll organize by sending each other messages by Pony Express!

    Jeanette--Thanks! This one's actually an Erma reject from years past. Go to my blog and click on the picture of me hiding behind the giant scoop of ice cream and it'll zip you straight to this year's piece, "The Bra Whisperer."

  14. Amy: I did go to your blog and read "the Bra Whisperer." It also is hilarious! I wish you were my next door neighbor, my sister and my co-worker. The morale in my life would soar!

  15. Jeanette, I can see us giggling and swapping stories. We're a party waiting to happen, I can tell!


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