Telephonic Invasion

Talking on the phone to my mother is like walking into the mall when it’s full of holiday shoppers and trying to get the attention of someone on the other side of the mall. The last time I talked to her, I told her this when I was finally able to get her attention again, and she told me to shut up, and I told her I was going to write a website entry about her. That is my second-favorite comeback, right behind “I will cut you,” and it’s just about as effective. Because I’m about as likely to actually cut you as I am to remember that I was going to write about you on my website.

But anyway, back to my mom and the phone. I’m pretty sure my mom hates talking on the phone, but she hates IMing more. Side note: on the rare occasion Mom IMs us, she’ll end her IM with “love you, mom.” It’s totally adorable. So between IMs and the phone, she chooses the phone – but seriously, you can’t talk to my mom on the phone the way you talk to normal humans on the phone.

She is constantly distracted by other people at home, the dogs, the cats, cooking, the computer, something on TV, whether or not the air conditioner just kicked on, shiny things, hot dogs – basically, everything. Sometimes you know she’s been distracted because she’ll abruptly start a conversation with someone else. That’s especially funny when you think she’s talking to you, and you’re like “what the hell?” and she gets all exasperated, like, “I was talking to DAD.” Sometimes you have to infer that she’s distracted because you’ve just asked her a question and you hear nothing but silence on the other end. Silence never means she’s thinking about what you just said. It always means she’s stopped listening.

When I was on the phone with her the other night, she started to break up a potential fight between the insane weenie dog and the kitten, and then Dad asked her what she was doing, and so she explained it to him, and they had a conversation about it, and whatever, it’s a good thing I had a nail file nearby so I could have something to occupy my time until she remembered what that black plastic thing in her hand was all about. Sometimes I just hang out and wait. Sometimes I get all pissy and am like, HELLO, I AM NOT IN THE ROOM WITH YOU. There’s no point in continuing to talk because you’ll have to repeat everything anyway.

Mom isn’t quite comfortable getting the call waiting, so she often hangs up on people by accident. She also sometimes presses buttons on the phone by accident when she balances the phone on her shoulder so she can do something else at the same time. It’s like talking to a four-year-old. She can’t be bothered to memorize my home number (which is REALLY easy) or to check their caller ID for it, so half the time she calls my cell phone, and if I happen to have it on, I’ll ask her why she called the cell, thinking maybe something was wrong with my home phone, which is when she’s all huffy like “I don’t know THAT number. I only know THIS number.”

She called my cell the other day, and when I answered the phone, she said, “Do you know where that blue backpack is?”

This made as much sense to me as it probably does to you right now. It turns out that sometime when I was in college, Ginny had a backpack that broke, and they sent it back, and JanSport sent them a new one, and it was blue, and did I know where it was? I did not, because
a) I was in college 800 miles away when this happened,
b) We didn’t even live in the same house then, and
c) It was almost TEN YEARS AGO.

I pointed this out and suggested she call Ginny. She says she doesn’t know Ginny’s number. I tell her to get a pencil and I’ll recite it to her, since I’ve memorized it, and she tells me that she just didn’t feel like looking it up, and then recites 8 of the 10 digits to me. And once again, I bet Ginny’s number is on the caller ID.

All phone conversations with my mom have a predetermined time limit that is etched in stone somewhere in the murky recesses of her brain. We never know what the time limit will be, but at some point, sometimes even mid-sentence, she’ll abruptly announce that she can’t stay on the phone anymore, and then she says her standard “loveyoubye,” which is very Mom of her (and we love it), and sometimes she hangs up on us. Sometimes she starts this and I’m like, MOM, you called ME. Doesn’t matter – she has to go. RIGHT THAT SECOND.

Mom is quite capable of having a normal conversation with you on the phone, provided that she’s home alone and it isn’t too late in the evening. She can’t focus when other things are around to stimulate her attention, and she gets all loopy after about 8:30. Most of the time, talking to her on the phone is a surreal experience where you may or may not get to the point of the phone call eventually.

Sometimes it’s maddening. Sometimes it’s hilarious. But either way, it’s very, very Mom, and if she reads this she will remind us that these are the stories we’ll tell about her when she’s dead and gone. We tell her we’re getting started early.

9 Replies to “Telephonic Invasion”

  1. Oh my god! I didn’t realize anyone retained the ability to memorize phone numbers anymore. Sadly, I’m impressed. As soon as I got a cell phone…and I didn’t get one until like three years ago…I immediately forgot every phone number. I used to have such skill with that. No more.

    I’ve also found myself almost incapable of reading a watch or clock unless it is the analog read out on my cell phone. I disgust me in this way.

    I love your mom. She’s like my mom, only your mom talks. My mom starts a conversation and the second something else strikes her attention–this usually takes two minutes–she cuts in and says, “That’s all. It was nice talking to you.” Gone.

  2. This got me thinking about a recent conversation about voice mail messages moms leave for their kids. A friend of mine figured out that the best way to get him to call her back was to say in the message that she has good news, which she usually doesn’t. My mom leaves these frightening messages like, “Rebekah, this is your mother! Call me back!” and if I don’t call her back in the next 30 minutes, she’ll leave another message asking where I am and why I haven’t called. She usually doesn’t have anything pressing to discuss.

    Moms are so amusing.

  3. When my mom calls me and I don’t answer (I only have a cell), when I call her back, she asks, “Were you in the shitter?” This is odd, since my mom doesn’t normally call the bathroom that, but when I laugh and say “Why do you say that?” she says “That’s the only reason I can think of for not answering your phone!”

  4. Sigh. Mom. I especially love it when you’ve spent money to call her, like when I was a poor ass freshman in college, and she spends the whole time talking to someone else. That’s awesome.

  5. This is Lorie’s Mom and Lorie’s Dad said that I had to read the entry about me. I normally don’t read Lorie’s page as I feel it’s like reading her diary, which my mom did to me so I would never do such a thing to my girls. Anyways, I’ve switched subjects so Lorie must be right, I can’t focus on one thing too long. I just wanted to say I was laughing so hard that tears were pouring because every bit of what she says is true. Hopefully these are the things they’ll talk about when I’m dead and gone and laugh as hard as I did reading this. Thanks for the memories Lorie! Love you bye, Momma

  6. That last entry might just have been the greatest validation of any blog written by anyone, anywhere.

  7. I have the opposite problem with my sister-in-law. She is already talking into the phone as I am picking it up to say hello, and then she doesn’t stop for about a half an hour – the length of the ride to work. I can sit and interject a “uh-huh,” and a “really?” sporadically. Eventually she has to go because there is a cop looking at her talking on her cell in her car.

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