CRIS COHEN, is staff humor columnist for Renaissance Magazine. His work is also published weekly in three California newspapers and four online humor magazines
Falling On Deaf Ears
My mom has a cordless phone, which, because of its advanced technology, is essentially just a big pointer. It's the kind of thing you have around in case you ever have to give a lecture. "You know, the other day several people stopped by the house unexpectedly with flow charts and an overhead projector. Well, thank God I had a cordless telephone."
It's one of those phones that looks like it might have been made by the people at Mattel. Everything is oversized, to the point where you might have trouble bringing it through the Holland Tunnel. This is usually the approach that manufacturers take with children's toys. They figure that as long as the toy is no smaller than a Range Rover, then odds are the kid is not going to be able to shove it anywhere painful. At least pediatricians are rarely called in to remove a sport utility vehicle from a child's nose.
The antenna on this phone is huge. And it's not like the size helps the reception any. Despite the fact that the antenna looks like it belongs to the sequoia family, you still lose the signal when you walk away from the base unit. Actually, you lose the signal whenever you turn to face another direction. A violent sneeze can pretty much disconnect the call altogether. "Achoo! Hello? Hello?!" Which makes you wonder if they ever use cordless phones at 911. "Oh man, I lost another one. He said something about bleeding and a soup spoon. It's these darn allergies."
The phone seems to have been made by the same people who designed the walkie-talkies when I was a kid. These were small plastic boxes that allowed you to send static to a friend at the other end of the yard. As a result you had extensive conversations that went something like:
This went on for a half an hour. After a while you started walking closer and closer to each other to try and improve the signal. Eventually you are standing right next to each other and you find out that all he was saying was "What?" Of course, the packaging that they had for these walkie-talkies suggested that they were exactly like the ones used by military personnel. Which is a comforting thought.
"What did he say?"
"I don't know. Let's just fire the thing."
Lately the cordless phone has developed an entirely new feature. Now when you dial in a number, it calls someone -- although not the person you dialed. It's like the phone noticed that the disc changer had a random play feature and thought, "Well there's a cool idea." So it decided that it too should have a random play feature. Thus it has become fiber optic roulette.
While visiting my mom recently, I called my friend Paul. Instead of Paul, some lady answered. Thinking that I had just misdialed, I carefully redialed the number. This time the phone dialed a completely different wrong number. It was a guy that answered this time, so at least the phone was narrowing down the search. It had found the right gender and was working its way up from there. I told the guy Paul's number and asked him if that was the number I had reached. Maybe Paul's phone was part of an exchange program. The guy's response was, "You're way off."
Now, "way off" implies that I didn't just misdial one of the digits. "Way off" implies that I called Mir. And maybe the space station does get wrong numbers. "No, this isn't Domino's! (Caller says something) Yes, I'm sure!"
Although they might have a cordless phone on Mir. After all, they might have to give lectures every once in a while.
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