There Once Was A Game Called Telephone …

and I have no intention of talking about that today.

Day 26 of the #WingWritingChallenge brings us to the word telephone. There are several directions I can take this and I’m having a hard time deciding which way to go. When in doubt, take a hard left.

I have this cousin – surprise! I have family members to talk about! – on my mother’s side. Okay, I have two cousins on that branch of the tree. Cousin C is the eldest. A year after him came my brother, a year later came Cousin S, and then a year after that came me. We were and are still The Cousins to the family.

“The Cousins are spending the weekend at Gramma’s so the parents can have some peace and quiet.” Like that. There are yearly photos of us sitting on Gram’s couch in order of age – which also happened to be from tallest to shortest.

Genes are an interesting thing. My eldest cousin and I have more in common than I do with my actual sibling. My brother has more in common with Cousin S than with me, his own sister. When I realized this in my late teens, I often wondered if the Almighty They somehow screwed up the order, or which cousin was supposed to be born to which family.

My brother and Cousin S are blonde, whereas Cousin C and I are brunette.  Cousin C has an affinity for video games and things computer that matches mine. It’s rather interesting when we get together. I don’t get to see them often now that I’m in Florida, but that was bound to happen as we all grow older and live our lives.

We’re still very connected. In our family, that’s required. Cousin S and the family came down to Florida for vacation and my Companion and I made sure we caught up to them. The last time I was in Michigan Cousin S made time for coffee and told me about the trials and tribulations of finding housing for students from other countries. That was way more interesting than it sounds.

I bring all of this up for one reason. When it comes to  telephones, Cousin C gave me the descriptor I use automatically when I hear the word.

Digital Leashes.

Those words flash in my head, neon red with those little light bulbs around them, like a marquis for a movie theater.

I remember when we only had landlines, and how much that sucked. We were held prisoner by the length of the cord and then later on by the signal strength of the cordless phones. How I used to pace the house … it had to have driven my mother nuts.

We had one of those super long cords, too. I think she bought it specially for the roamers of the family. My brother and I are the same way. We can’t talk and hold still. Pacing, wandering, pacing some more, doing small errands, whatever. There’s something about being on the phone that makes us move.

I loved it when cell phones came out and became more common. Or I thought I did. Cell phones made it impossible to miss calls, essentially. People knew we had our phones attached to us 24/7 so when that sucker went to voicemail, the caller knew they had been rejected.

Why? Why don’t they want to talk to me? Heartbreak!

The next era, the one we’re still in, is the one that appeals to me. Text messaging is the bomb.

My siblings and I have agreed that we don’t call anymore unless it’s an emergency or we plan the call ahead – like when my nieces and nephew want to video chat. We definitely don’t leave voicemails because none of us listen to them. I have three voicemails on my phone right now from my birthday that I haven’t bothered to play, and Lord knows how high my brother’s count is.

Texts are the same problem as calls. Everyone knows we have our phones on us 24/7, so why is it taking 2 hours for that message to be read?!? Huh?! Huh! Answer me that one, Phone Riddler! And then explain to me why auto-correct still changes “and” to my name. And how come the emojis …

Whoops, sorry, was getting a little carried away there. Mentioning emojis never leads anywhere pleasant.

Some of my first experiences learning about hackers – those are something my Cousin C and I both know about – were the phone phreaks. Those were the people who could get long distance calls on a payphone (Google it, children, and check out the extinct animal) for free. Eventually movies like Hackers and War Games exposed more people to the concept.

Most of them still don’t get it.

My Companion is in Internet Security. He’s well aware of the access phone lines used to be able to grant – and in some cases, still can. When I mentioned this topic last night, I was given a small discourse on the history of phone lines, including when actual people worked as operators and had to connect calls using giant circuit board looking things.


My brain immediately brought back memories of dial-up Internet service during this discussion. We both decided we wanted to cry because we’re 20 years older than we should be, and changed topics.

Point being, I don’t like telephones, and I don’t often use my phone as a phone. It’s more of a research tool that allows me to send messages slightly quicker than if I had used e-mail. I suppose that’s progress?

How do you feel about phones, my friends? If I had my druthers, I’d still have a landline and an answering machine so I could check it once a week and call it good without little notifications on my mobile device stalking me about my day, nudging guilt into the crevasses that retain the few small sparks of humanity not beaten out of me by The System.

I may have gotten carried away there again.

Why is it that cable companies offer packages with landlines, as though anyone uses those anymore? Do you know who actually connects phones to walls? Our grandparents, that’s who. Sometimes our parents. So why are cable companies making us do this to get a better price? Huh? Answer me that one, too, Phone Riddler!

God I hate phones.



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