I Was A Teen Telephone Addict


An Original Phone

My father used to say to me, “There should be an operation to attach the phone receiver to your ear.” I was a teenage telephone-a-holic! It was a preposterous idea to install a phone in one’s ear, but my father was not joking about what appeared to be his teenage daughter’s ‘over the top’ telephone addiction. I loved my big, clunky, black rotary phone!

The Rotary Phone I Grew Up With 1960-70s

Nowadays, these same rotary phones are collectors items. Recently, I asked my daughter’s friend if she knew what a ‘Land Line’ was and she looked at me perplexed. She had no idea what it meant to ‘dial a phone number’ or what ‘wire tapping meant’.

Remember we used to call our parents on pay phones from school? I would only call my mother if it was very important because it would require a whole calling-ceremony: waiting for break, walking over to the one school pay phone, standing in line to use it, digging deep into my book bag for a coin and then actually making the call. Half the time, the line was busy (there was no call waiting) or if my mom was not home, the very disinterested answering service person would picked up and take a message.

Now a days, our kids call or text immediately with everything and anything in between classes, from class and with no regard to time or urgency. No matter the nature of the call, we parents are ‘on call’ all day long – there is no time off for the Ninja Mom or Dad. We are like OBGYNs waiting for the call to rush and deliver a baby. Honestly, we are a generation of parents who have not successfully severed the umbilical cord with our kids!

The Pay Phone

By 1980, my mom bought me a small phone that was no longer rotary, but instead touch tone. I thought I had died and gone to heaven – I was so modern! The calls on my banana phone were quicker, the phone fit neatly in the crevice of my neck, and the long cord allowed me to drag the phone where I laid on the carpet and talked.

My Telephone 1980

I made it happily though high school and college with my banana phone in my bedroom. I had no idea that one day I would talk on the phone, text or check e-mails from my car. Instead, I quite contently sang with my cassette tapes and thought about things as I drove.

Man's New Best Friend?

Fast forward to 2012, I am the matriarch of an iPhone Poster Family. For over 20 years, I prevailed over walkie-talkie sized cell phones where most calls were dropped in mid-sentence; where each call was more expensive than a cup of coffee; and where people were forever screaming in the phone, “Where are you?”. By the time I received an iPhone, I was so appreciative of its magical capabilities. Now a days, MN teens receive the small and quite expensive iPhone like an automatic right of passage – a basic entitlement that every six months gets a bigger number and decreases in size; and they think they need ‘the newest one’!

The other morning, I went to wake my MN Teenage daughter who was fast asleep clutching her iPhone. As she stretched her arms and voiced her displeasure in getting up for school, she held on tightly to the iPhone. She is quite attached to her iPhone – both physically and emotionally! In this she is not unique, the iPhone Attachment Disorder is universal and it is ageless – just pop into a packed Apple Store in the mall, walk the streets where everyone is engaged with their iPhone or watch the news about fanatical Chinese storming Apple Stores in China.

As the chips for the iPhones get smaller and more powerful and there is less to wrap ones fingers around, I cannot help but think we are headed in the direction where one day, the technology for making a phone call will be small enough to actually insert into the ear of the caller.

I smile to think that my father was way ahead of his times in predicting the inevitable!

Ninja Mom

6 thoughts on “I Was A Teen Telephone Addict

  1. Yellow banana phone! Heaven… long cord, laying on the floor twisting the cord over and over and then having to fix by dangling it down!!!! ahhhhhh
    collect calls!

  2. Also when we were on our home phone, we could tie up the phone for hours talking to our friends. Needless to say, our parents were constanting badgering us to get off the phone since nobody else in the family could make or receive a call.

  3. Lying on my back. looking out the window, talking on the phone with my friends after school were some of the happiest times in my life.

  4. Last Sunday I was at Laguardia airport and I saw a whole row of pay phones in Air Trans’ very outdated terminal. When I saw those phones I thought to myself, “now that’s silly; who uses pay phones?”

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