Monday, August 13, 2007

Keep In Touch

In the past, I've failed to keep in touch. You've complained I don't call often enough. And as for letter writing, well, we've both neglected that quaint courtesy. But all that has changed, I promise. You see, my daughters bought me an iPhone for my birthday and now I can't keep my paws off the buttons. So call, text, let's catch up.

After receiving my iPhone (it was the first time in memory I lunged for the gift rather than the birthday cake) and swatting away my grandson who kept trying to snatch it from me, I reflected back on telephones of the past and the scenes they conjured.

Back in the 1940s (described in my memoir), I clearly see a small, spindly telephone table with a shelf for the Yellow Pages. When the telephone book wasn't a booster seat for me, it lived in its cubbyhole and grew tattered and smudged. A black, rotary dial phone topped the table; and my inventive father somehow anchored a pencil to that stand using string and rubber band.

I can't remember our phone number on Division Street, but my husband Tommy swears his prefix at the time, on Chicago's far northwest side, was Gladstone-something. Maybe my brother, Ron, although three years older than I but with a better memory, can come up with the long-buried name.

The Princess phone (It lights up!) was introduced in 1959, and that image finds me sitting on the floor of a narrow hallway in the one-bedroom apartment I shared with my mother. The phone was mounted on the wall, so I wound the cord around my fist while I yakked with my fiancé/first husband. During some of those daily calls, we considered eloping because we were both furklempt from the wedding arrangements. (We didn't elope, but interestingly -- to me, maybe not to you -- second husband Tommy and I got married in Las Vegas, somewhat of an elopement.)

During those same years in the late '50s, my mother Min was employed as a switchboard operator for American Linen Supply Co. After toiling behind a counter wearing a stained apron in our mom-and-pop grocery store, the new job was one she relished. I can still see her returning home at 6 p.m., her gorgeous blue eyes as bright as my illuminated phone, bringing tales of how her fingers zoomed across the board.

All of the other long-ago phones have faded from memory; the only images tied to them are rings that brought exceedingly good or bad news.

As for cell phones ("mobile" now, I guess) I was a slow subscriber, believing them primarily useful in case of emergency or for ordering pizza on your way home from work.

But because I've been a M.O. (Mac Obnoxious) since 2004, I have lusted for an iPhone since it was first unveiled. But the price tag kept us apart. My daughters -- evidentially witnessing their mother's desperate need for an object to love and pamper (other than themselves) -- on Aug. 10, presented me with the perfect gift.

Sadly for Faith and Jill, now that I'm armed with my clever iPhone, and have mastered Text Messenging, those poor dears are continually being harassed by their mother's: "hi, luv, how r u? xoxo"

I'm still w8ing 4 their reply.