Mama’s cellphone

by Marinka on March 8, 2009

Mama got a cell phone a few years ago and for the first few months papa and I kept calling each other nonstop.

“Where is she?” I would ask. “She is not answering her cell phone.”
“I don’t know,” he commiserated. “She never answers it. We should have just gotten her a toy one instead.”
We would call and call and she would never pick up.
She called me at the end of the day.
“It looks like I have fifteen missed calls,” she would say. “Did you try to reach me?”

I tried explaining how to check her cell to see whose calls she missed, but it was eaiser to explain thermonuclear energy to a kitten.

“Only a few people call me, anyway,” she defended her ludditeism. “I’ll just call everyone and ask.”

After a few months, mama realized that she heard the ringing better if the phone wasn’t at the bottom of her purse.
“Hello? HELLO?” she’d yell into the cell with such an urgency that I wanted to deliver some earth shattering news, as opposed to “hey, I’m at Whole Foods and Arctic Char is on sale. Is that the fish that made me shit out salad dressing?” (sidenote: if you go to that link, which you absolutely should because it is one of the most hysterical things that I’ve read and also, incidentally, happened to me, do not, under any circumstances miss the second comment. Because when I have a bad day, it’s my “go-to” comment and it always cracks me up).
“It’s me,” I would announce.
“Yes, what is it? What do you want?” Mama considers cell phones to be for urgent communication only, like the coming of the Messiah or a Bloomnigdale’s unadvertised White Sale.
“Nothing. I’m in line at the store waiting to pay and I’m bored.”
I say “bored” before I remember that mama has banned that word since the mid-80s. Mama is a workoholic and a universal improver. She’s the type of person who will assess any situation in record breaking time and give you various suggestions as to what you should do to improve it. In my case, “any situation” is “my life” and she has many helpful hints. Such energy does not understand boredom.
“What classes are the kids signed up for?” she asks me.
“Piano, karate.”
“Daughterella should be taking tennis lessons,” she proclaims.
“Tennis lessons? They are so expensive and this isn’t the economy to-“
“You democrats are always whining. Blame the economy, blame the government for your laziness. I didn’t hear a peep out of you about the economy when you liberated all those clothes from Saks .”
“I need clothes.”
“Yes, we all need clothes. What, am I a nudist now? What you need is to lose some weight. Then clothes will fit better. You know, fat really ages you. You don’t want to look older than you are.”
“Listen, the line is really moving now, I better go!” It’s amazing what a boredom buster mama can be.
“I bet it’s moving. Moving is great exercise!”
“Bye.”
“Give everyone my love,” mama says and as I start to hang up, I hear her starting to say something else. Of course. Because that is what mama does. After all goodbyes are said and you are hanging up, she’ll add something so that you have no choice but to call her back. What? You think that you do have a choice? Good luck to you with that, you insane optimist.
So I call back and say, “You were talking while I was hanging up again.”
And she says,”It’s nothing important. Just dress the kids warmly, it’s cold.”
“OK, thanks.” I am determined to stay on the line until she hangs up and as she does, I remember something key that I wanted to tell her. “Hey, mom-” click. I call her back.
“Listen, mom, I read the worst article the other day-“
“Oh,” she is suddenly excited, “I think I read the same one! Was it the one about famine overcoming the United States and how people will turn to cannibalism?” I look around Whole Foods. The lines are unusually long and the people in front of me do look really tasty.
“Er..no, it was about how fingernails become more brittle as we age. Is that true?” I am suddenly starving.
“You read some real crap,” she says. “Let’s hang up on three.”
“Ok, but you do the counting,” I tell her.

And it’s a good thing that she does, too, because the hunger is making me lightheaded.

One year ago ...

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