Call me. Maybe.

I don’t know when our home phone got demoted, but it did. It used to be the ringing of the home phone was like the bell to Pavlov’s dog. We would jump to attention. Who might it be? Is it family? Friend?

Nowadays we know who it is: The National Rifle Association, political call, or telemarketers.

Old school

I don’t know precisely how it happened, but we now view our home telephone as a social pariah.

If it rings, we recoil in horror and refuse to touch it unless the caller ID confirms that it is one of two people known to us who actually call.

When it rings, we will actively freeze in our tracks as if it can sense our fear. One of use may approach it, tentatively, to check out the caller ID.

We have one relative who has a number that lists as “Anonymous.” We’ve come to believe that all “Anonymous” calls are her and will usually take our chances and answer it. We have been burned by this blind faith. We consider it a personal failing if “Rachel from Cardholder Services” makes contact with an actual human being.

Going mobile

We have become a family of mobile phone users. Over time, I found it easier to give out my cell rather than home number. Over the past few years the school or activity forms for a variety of things no longer featured “home” and “cell” numbers. It seemed safer to have the school call the cell, after all. I’m always available.

The home phone, a.k.a. “Landline” telephone tied to the house, seems as archaic as a butter churn.

My best friend enjoys calling the home phone and it is for her that I maintain it. I suppose in some recess of my mind I think a long-lost friend from 1996 may need to reach me as well. We’ve had the number so long it seems part of the family, and the telephone provider insists that removing the landline from our cable bundle will net me a savings of roughly six bucks.

So 2009

Interestingly enough, half our family rarely TALKS on the telephone at all. My children would rather perform advanced algebra on demand than pick up a telephone and speak to anyone. As an example our daughter’s phone shows that she used exactly three minutes of talk time last month — and sent 3,000 texts.

I am personally a big fan of texting. I know some may disagree, but to me a transcript of your actual conversation seems so HANDY. Can’t recall what your friend asked you to bring to the party? Just check the text and you’ll know that you were assigned baked bean salad with vinaigrette dressing. Then you can text her back and say “What!???”

I think its nice how texting has rescued once dusty characters from near keyboard extinction. I don’t think I had ever used “

I can scarcely imagine what the @ symbol was used for before the advent of the Internet. Did they just invent it 100+ plus years earlier and then sit back and wait?

“Seriously Silas, I’m telling you, this thing doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense now, but in about 90 or so years it’s really going to come in HANDY.”

We message, we text, we socially mediate and mobile call. What we don’t do much anymore is sit home by the phone.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for me, but if tolls from the home phone, I’m probably just going to let it ring.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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