I am a smartphone addict and the world is going to hell.

nomophobia-1

  Nomophobia — the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. A drastic change happened in my life this past year. I ditched my trusty old flip phone from the dinosaur age — the one I never texted on and barely used to … Continue reading

Why Tony Bennett Never Calls My Mom

My 80-year-old mother has a very full, active life. She knits. She reads. She waits for the mail.

**crickets**

**crickets**

Oh — and she constantly complains to me about receiving prerecorded scam phone calls.

“He called me again the other day!” she scowls at me over her coffee mug.

“Who? Your boyfriend Tony Bennett?” We both laugh. This joke never gets old for either of us.

He's quite dreamy.

He is quite dreamy.

“No! The ro-but!” she yells.

“Oh! You mean you got another robocall?”

“Yes! The RO-BUT!”

Greetings, earthling! This is not Tony Bennett.

Greetings, earthling! This is not Tony Bennett.

“So did you tell him off?” I giggle because I already know the answer.

“He says to me ‘Good morning Senior Citizen!’ First off — how in the hell does he know I’m a senior citizen?! UP YOURS BUDDY! That’s what I told him too!”

“I’m sure he learned his lesson then.”

“And then he has the gall to say, ‘Congrats! You’ve won an all-expense paid trip to the Bahamas! All you have to do is press number five on your phone!’ And I says to him, ‘Oh yeah? How ’bout you press THIS buddy! Huh? How do you like them apples? Is there a number I can press to tell you to go to hell? Jeezum crow!'”

Phones have always been a source of aggravation for my mom, and not just because Tony Bennett never returns her calls. Yesterday she told us a story about how when she was a child, her family didn’t even have a phone. My stunned kids asked how they communicated without texting and she explained how they had to actually walk to the neighbor’s house to talk. This blew their little minds. People used to talk back then? My little mind was blown as well.  People used to walk back then?

“Imagine! When I was a teen, we didn’t even OWN a phone!” my mom said to my kids, a look of sheer terror spreading across their faces.  “If I wanted to get together with my friend, I had to walk three blocks to her house and hope to God she was home! And heaven forbid if there was an emergency, we’d have to walk all the way over to my aunt’s house on the other side of town because she had the only phone! She was always so smug about it too. Oh how we hated her and her stupid phone!”

Such a bitch.

Such a bitch.

Back in the 1940s, my mom’s father was an accountant for L.L. Bean — the actual man, not just the store itself. My grandparents and my mom lived in a house right next door to the famous hunting store. It was the same old house I grew up in as well. We were so close to the retail floor, I was able to sit at the kitchen table, eat my Cheerios and tell the New York tourist trying on the camouflage flannel long johns she should probably go up another size.

But I’m sure my grandfather didn’t think living so close to his workplace was such a good thing when the poor man didn’t even have a phone to screen calls from his pesky boss.

“And get this!” my mom continued.  “Whenever my dad was home on his days off and L.L. needed him to come in to work? He’d just throw open his office window and holler at my dad across the yard, ‘Hey Daniel! Get over here! I need you!'”

“Wow, that’s just insane,” I said. “You had windows back then?”

“Darla! Yes we had windows back then. We weren’t cavemen for god’s sake.”

“So Mom — why do you still phone me all day long when I live right next door to you?” (We currently live in a side by side duplex house and she calls me approximately 15-200 times a day to tell me her remote’s broken.)  “Why don’t you just yell at me through the window like L.L. Bean did in the good old days of yore?”

“Good point. Makes sense. Well, I’ll have to start doing that. And maybe that gall-darn ro-BUT man will stop bugging me. Then I’d free up my phone in case Tony calls!”

Never give up hope, Mom.

Good plan. Never give up hope, Mom.

___________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Happy Impending Death Day!

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Our culture doesn’t do so well with death. We don’t like to talk about it or even think about it.

Except for people who were born and raised in Maine. We’re more down-to-earth types who treat death like it’s a bad dentist appointment. Yeah it’s gonna happen to you one day so you might as well suck it up, deal with it, and move on.

My 80-year-old mother cheerfully sat down with me last week to go over her old family photo albums again because, “I might not be here tomorrow.” She has told me this every single day for about 15 years.

Anytime I try to plan something with her, she gives the same response.

“Hey, Mom! Want to drive up to Bar Harbor and see the ocean this August?”

“Sure! But I might be dead by then.”

“Hey Mom! Wanna go to L.L. Bean’s with me this weekend?”

“Sure! But I might be dead by then.”

“Hey, Mom! Want to go out to dinner tonight at that Italian place?”

“Sure!”

“What — you’re not planning on dying later today?”

“Well, I’m hoping I die during the meal. Serves them right. They don’t serve Sanka. What kind of a place doesn’t have Sanka?”

So once again last week we sat down to sift through old family pictures because she might die at any second.  Her albums are full of faded sepia toned photos displaying the typically stern, emotionless faces of my relatives from the early 1900s.

I’m convinced the photographer must have yelled out the directions, “Frown! Frown harder! Look miserable! You’re sullen! No, I need more sullen! Dour! Do dour! Great! Hold that pose! Yes! You’re sad! Profoundly sad! Hold it! Hooold it! Perfect!”

Basketball is just so 'meh'. (My grandfather is the particularly ecstatic boy sitting in the front to the left)

(My grandfather is the particularly ecstatic boy sitting in the front to the left)

And most of my relatives died young of a horrible disease.  It’s a miracle I exist at all. My mother points her shaky finger to every person in the photo, tells me his or her name and how they died like she’s rattling off her grocery list.

“This is Charlie, died of tuberculosis. He was 35.”

“This is Charlotte. She died of tuberculosis. She was 15 years old.”

“Oh, and this is Sarah. Died of tuberculosis. She was four.”

“What happened to the dog?” I ask. “Please tell me he made it at least.”

Welcome to the early 20th century when even the dogs looked depressed. (My grandfather is the one holding the dog)

Welcome to the early 20th century when even the dogs looked depressed. (My grandfather is the one holding the dog)

After a few more photo albums filled with tuberculosis, my mom likes to throw in a zinger, probably to see if I’m really listening.

“Oh! And this is your great-great uncle Fred,” she smiles brightly and points to a handsome young man sporting a snappy blazer and smoking a cigarette.  “He was a pilot and flew his plane straight into the side of a mountain, killed instantly.”

“Wait — are you sure it wasn’t tuberculosis that got him?”

“Darla!” she scowls at me. Then she clears her throat. “Well, actually yes. The coughing is what made him crash the plane.”

My eyes bug out.

“I’m kidding! Kidding! Oh no, the poor man just slammed straight into a mountain! Boom! Never had a chance!” my mom yells, throws her head back and cackles.

And they say death isn’t funny.