Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lord of the Ring.

Imagine the scene: Consort and I are sitting in the kitchen. I am talking about something meaningful to me, such as: “The more I use Quickbooks, the more I hate Quickbooks and henceforth I intend to balance the company’s books using restaurant napkins” or “I wish we had pie in the house right now, but not enough to go out and get one”. During this, Consort nods appreciatively while focusing most of his mental energy on Sudoku. Just then, we hear a faint yet persistent ringing from the phone base; a second later, somewhere in the house, there is an answering ring from the handset itself. I leap from the chair as if I have been attacked by a cattle prod. I have exactly three rings to locate the handset.

In this house, searching for lost objects takes up more of our waking hours than food preparation. Consort and I lose things and spend a great deal of time trying to find them. What makes my relationship with the phone slightly different than the usual “Where in the hell did I put…” is that I have twenty seconds to find the phone before it switches over to the answering machine. I hate picking up the phone after someone has started relating to the machine. No matter how many times I assure them I was diving through the clothes hamper looking for the receiver, I just know they think, “So. I guess I was good enough to make it through screening. Guess I was worthy of conversation this time...”

I know people believe this because I frequently get messages along the lines of “Hi, Quinn…you there? C’mon, pick up. I’ve got great gossip…pick up, pick up. Here’s a hint: a jar of marshmallow fluff in the glove compartment, a Polaroid in a briefcase, and you’ll-never-guess-who calling me for the name of a good divorce lawyer….Oh, fine! Call me when you feel like talking to me…”

So people think I have the social skills of the Unabomber, when in fact I just have this habit of leaving the cordless phone wherever I finish my phone call. And since I walk around the house doing things when I talk, the phone could end up anywhere. I mean anywhere.

I have found the phone in Daughter’s dress-up box, on her bookshelf and under her pillow.

I have found the phone in the shower caddy, behind the cat box and in the medicine cabinet.

I have found the phone inside the fish poacher, the spice rack and a freshly carved pumpkin.

I have found the phone on the lid of the blue recycling bin propping up a bag of grass seed and, in one heart-stopping episode, hiding in a pile of laundry I was about to dump into hot, bleach-infused water.

So even though our house is small, I cannot possibly check all potential phone-hiding spots in three rings. I try to locate the phone by echo-locating its electronic bleat, but the initial ring only tells you which side of the house is involved. With any luck, the second ring tells me what room to start your search. The third ring I hear as I am flying back to the phone’s base, hitting “Speakerphone” and bellowing “What…Hi! It’s me…Hi!” in what I can only hope is a friendly tone, in a meth-addicted troll-under-the-bridge sort of way.

“…?” I can hear the other person breathing in confusion, trying to figure out of this is some post-modern answering machine message.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” I yell helpfully at the phone base, not entirely clear where the microphone is.

“Quinn?”

“Yes. Hi!”

“Am I…interrupting something?”

“No…NO! I just had to crawl out from under the bed and run across the house. Let me catch my breath. So, how are you?”

“I’m…good. Uh, could you take me off speaker phone?”

“Oh, yeah…sorry, no.”

I have discussed the most personal subjects bellowing into a black plastic box, using a tone better suited for summoning bird dogs from across the field:

“IF YOU KEEP HAVING THE ITCHING, YOU NEED TO GO TO THE GYNOCOLOGIST. THAT’S NOT NORMAL. HOLD ON, THE ELECTRICIAN IS FINISHED FOR THE DAY AND WANTS TO ASK ME A QUESTION.”

It’s really a miracle I have any friends at all.

I have toyed with the idea of sitting in one place while I talk on the phone, but I am not certain my mouth can move if my legs aren’t moving. I have considered taking the phone back to the base each and every time I finish a conversation, but burst into gales of laughter before I even finish the thought; if I’m going to hallucinate why don’t I just take it there on the back of my kindly winged horse? So, I have come to the only logical conclusion.

I will fix it so our phone will ring six times before it trips over to the service. Barring my flushing the receiver or somehow shipping it to Guam, that should do it.

Ask not for whom the phone rings. It rings for me.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on, a freshly carved pumpkin?

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Currently, one of our two cordless phones is missing. Seeing as they are the only phones we have, and the battery on one is always low, finding the misplaced phone is a priority for me. Not so much a priority for my husband (the phone misplacer himself!).

Somewhere between the phone being misplaced and realizing that it was misplaced the battery died. So, now we can't even call the house from our cell phone (all the while hiding the one phone that we have located under a pillow) so that we can hear the misplaced phone ring.

Seeing that I have found phones in the laundry (at least you aren't the only one), the tool box, and other bizzare places, we could very well have only one phone, with a low battery, for a long time!

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

My phone is a problem. My cupboard next to my microwave is...for some reason when I put leftovers in the cupboard instead of the microwave they never seem to warm up. One day when I opened the microwave to remove my lunch, and it wasnt there, it took me several minutes to find it...did I put it back in the fridge? or maybe it was already on the table...hmmm. My kids are right I need a vacation!

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

DUH--I meant my phone ISNT a problem...guess it is my brain after all....

4:50 PM  
Blogger houseband00 said...

for some reason or other, I always misplace my cellphone and it's always on mute. also, for at least once a week, at around 5 minutes after i rush out of the house, i realize i left my cell. i plan to have the damn thing surgically implanted.

4:40 PM  

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