One Ringy Dingy, Two Ringy Dingy

If you don’t remember Lily Tomlin and her funny phone sketches as Ernestine, the phone operator, you might not relate to my blog today.

Phones have come a long way in my lifetime.  I grew up in the generation when the phone receiver connected to the body of the phone by a long curly cord and then the body connected to the wall by another cord.  We were tethered not only to our house, but to the distance that our cords could be stretched.   As a teenager, one could only hope the cord reached into a closet or some other private domain so everyone wasn’t privy to personal conversations.  If you were wealthy or lucky, your parents might get a phone for your own bedroom or, better yet, a ‘children’s line’ with a different phone number.  Then you could fight with your siblings for phone time.  Heaven forbid that your sister and you  had boyfriends at the same time.  Sisterly phone wars would certainly erupt.

This bit of background is offered to set the stage for my problem with cell phones.  My sister-in-law and I were talking yesterday about how we hate that we’re expected to carry something around with us as we go through our day.  That something is, of course, our cell phones. I’m talking about carrying something when we’re at home without a purse on our arm. I have no objections to taking my phone when I’m out and about.  But in my own home, it’s too much trouble.  I’m at that age where I can’t keep up with my glasses half the time and now I have to carry a little phone.  I refuse to wear it as an accessory and I don’t always have a pocket.  I’ve tried carrying it in my bra but that only works until I bend over to pick up a dirty sock.

I feel pressured to carry this ‘anchor’ daily.   I have the old-fashioned house phones that ring and you can hear the bell wherever you are in the house.  The problem is my children don’t really get this concept. They only call the cell phone and then say, “I called you but you never answer your phone” .  I must note that they answer their phones every time ‘bestest mom’ flashes on the screen.  Just kidding.  Anyway,  I then tell them to call the house phone. They look confused.  How could anyone not be connected to their cell phone for more than a few hours? My husband gets it.  He calls the house phone because he knows chances are I’ve forgotten  the other in some deep corner of the house.  He is also the only other person to answer the house phone.  When the children are here and it rings, they don’t move- not even if the phone is located under the couch pillow on the couch where they’re sitting.

Well, there’s my phone

I’m confused by how the children never lose their phones. They keep them on vibrate or that tricky sound that old ears can’t hear and yet they rarely lose their phones.  (Maybe the house phone rings on a frequency that only mature ears hear)  If my cell phone wasn’t turned on with a high ringer volume,  I would have had to replace it more times than you can count.  At least once a week I call it in an effort to find where I left it because I tried to carry it with me throughout my day.  I wouldn’t be able to find it if I didn’t have my trusty backup house phone.  I walk around the house calling my cell number until I vaguely hear a sound in the distance.  I call again and follow the sound up the stairs and into the bedrooms until the location becomes apparent.  You know the routine.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do love cell phones.  Every time I think of something I forgot to tell one of my clan, I simply text and my mind clears of that thought for a while.  Additionally, I have a record that I sent the message when I try to remember the next day if I thought about sending that text or I really did.  I love that I can immediately note each and every appointment on my phone and an alarm can be set to remind me at a specified time of my scheduled events.  And what busy (not old)  person doesn’t want an immediate connection to the internet to find answers to odd questions when you can’t pull the answers up in your own computer, commonly called your brain?  I feel empowered with a vast wealth of knowledge because of my phone.

The best thing about cell phones is my children can be sitting somewhere bored and they can call ole mom to waste ten minutes.  My only request is that they try that other number occasionally.  Chances are I’m not going to hear my cell because I left it on the top shelf in the pantry  when I was looking for my glasses that I last remember having when I was in the pantry reading the calorie label on the Oreos.  It’s really my children’s fault  I lost it in the first place.  I bought those Oreos for them and they should’ve finished them off over the holidays.


  1. So funny. I stick my phone in my bra all the time at home, and inevitably bend over and drop it. I also forget I have it and jump when it rings-I wonder if loud ringers shorten your life span by causing your heart to race…..


  2. We had a party line with my Aunt (I used to love to listen in on her).
    And as far as your kids calling when they are bored…years ago, my brother (who was well over thirty) was taking a course in NYC on beer-judging (yeah, that’s no typo), and he missed his train. He had to wait an hour, so he called my mother. My mother loves to hear from my brother…but it was past midnight and he had had quite of bit of beer to judge.


  3. Oh Ernestine the operator! Rolling in laughter. What’s really sad is some of us remember those crank wall phone at “ancient relatives” houses in the country ( 2 bells is this house, 3 bells is for the one down the road…..and phone manners necessary for co-existing with “party lines” ) Great post (and eat the Oreo cookies – don’t want them to get stale)


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