Hold the phone!

“Well if he is good enough to spend time with Justin Brenner then he’s good enough for me!” I am listening reluctantly to a stranger’s phone conversation on the bus. As far as I can tell, “Justin Brenner” is the young man talking on a cell phone about himself in the third person. Basically he is saying that if this “Mr. Wonderful” is good enough to spend time with him, then he, Justin Brenner, is good enough to spend time with that someone else. It is the stupidest shit I have heard in a long time. Could the bar be set any lower? Following his logic, a stray cat, a stalker and a kidnapper all stand the same chances of becoming his Mr. Right. I am rooting for the kidnapper.


I really shouldn’t be so critical, but because he is talking so loudly not only do I have the right, but also the responsibility to judge him. His tone comes across as “Hey kids, let’s put on a show!” which adds to the irritation factor.

“I know it’s only been two weeks, but I have a good feeling about this!” He says. I laugh out loud and Justin quickly turns to look at me. I look down at my book and pretend to be amused by what I am reading. Pointing my index finger at a paragraph in my book and chuckling.

There is something particularly irritating about hearing half of a conversation in a public area. Not just any public area, but in spaces where I cannot get away, such as buses, check-out lines, the subway and public restrooms. Maybe it’s the fact that I am only allowed to hear one half of the equation.

I can't say that this is a recently acquired irritation.  I have had to deal with this since childhood. My mother would talk on the wall mounted phone located next to the den for hours at a time.

“uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh” Pause and then  “OK,OK,OK,OK”

She sounded like a record player that needed to be bumped. Irritated, I would yell at my brother “What did Dr. Bellows say? Turn up the TV!” My brother would have to actually get up off of the floor and manually turn up the volume.

I know what you’re thinking. I could have escaped my mother’s phone conversation, but there was simply no way around it. This was the 1970’s. In our home, there was one TV, one phone and no way to record “I dream of Jeannie”. My brothers and I were prisoners.

Eventually my mother stretches the phone cord and steps into the den, snapping her fingers while staring at me. I point at my brother with a questioning look as if to say “You want Jake?” My mother shakes her head, snaps her fingers again and points at something in the room while silently mouthing some indistinguishable word. “The lamp? The cat? You want the cat?” I say while picking up our bewildered cat named Al. I am looking at my mother with an expectant look.

“Hold on Sootie!” My mother says in a half irritated, half apologetic tone and then covers the receiver. “Why would I want the damn cat? THAT! Give me THAT pen!” I drop the cat and it is at this point that I realize I would be in trouble if I were a deaf child. My mother’s hand signals and lip movements are a foreign language.

After grudgingly handing my mother a pen, I return to “I dream of Jeannie” and begin to think of what my three wishes would be. 1) There would be multiple TV sets in the house. 2) Telephones that could be used anywhere and 3) The ability to read someone’s mind so that they would not snap their fingers and yell at you when you couldn’t read their lips.

It is the future and I realize that all of my wishes have come true. For the most part this is good. Except that the number two wish has enabled number three. We listen to everyone’s thoughts each day while they chatter incessantly on their mobile phones. I have to reconsider my third wish. Who wants to be privy to someone’s rambling thoughts anyway?

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