I know, I know, landlines are obsolete -- even though technically, mine is a cellphone in landline clothing.
It still looks and sounds like a home phone, which means grandchildren scream and jump in the air when it rings, similar to how I'd jump if a tornado siren went off in my house at unpredictable intervals.
Most of the incoming calls are recorded voices, pretending to be real. One features a woman saying, "Oh, is someone there? Sorry -- I was having problems with my headset." Since I hear this as, "I was having problems with my husband," I always give the caller points for creativity before hanging up.
Others, especially the ones that ask, "Is the lady of the house there?" get demerits instead. Houses don't have ladies anymore. Keep up.
In the end, most incoming calls are sales, scams or mounted deputies selling tickets. (Nothing against deputies or their mounts; I'm just more of a dog person.) The complication is, the caller might be one of my daughters, who still call that number occasionally. (Remember, this is an archaic wall phone, without caller ID.)
I solve the dilemma by answering every call in a Loving Mom Not to Mention Grandma voice and switching to my How Dare You Intrude on My Privacy voice when I hear, "I'm calling from Internet Services," "This is Jessica from Home Security Protection" or "How are you today?" This last might be deceiving, except my daughters never begin phone conversations that way. They begin them the way every grown child does: They say, "Hi, it's me."
My husband once saved the beginnings of a series of messages from our daughters, which, played back, sounded like a Gregorian duet performed by mezzo-sopranos: "Hi Mom, it's me." "It's me." "It's me." "Hi, it's me." "It's me." "It's me." I think that's when I realized everybody deserves to have at least one person they can call and say, "It's me."
My point is, home telephones are as antiquated as Charga-Plates, yet ours is still here, hanging around like someone who came for Christmas dinner in 1993 and forgot to go home. At some point, we'll take it to the country and urge it to fly, old wall phone, fly! But until then, it's in a category with the turn-of-the-century cast-iron pump parked next to my treadmill. If I wanted to diversify my workout, I'd haul that thing downstairs and heave it into the National Kidney Services donation pile. I'm mostly into aerobics, though, so there it sits.
I find myself looking around the house for other archaic items. I don't see any, but they may have blended into the background. When I was a child, the loud tick-tock-tick-tock made by a pendulum clock in the living room faded away over time; I'd have to play the game of standing still and concentrating until the tick-tocks swam into auditory focus again.
The worst of the detritus has to go before my children have the sorrowful task of emptying this house and losing all respect for my memory. A percolator might be stashed in a kitchen cupboard. A console television could be crouched in a corner. A turntable may be in the rumpus room. We might actually have a rumpus room. I need to act while I still have my health.
So far, the most useless items I've found are dozens of outdated eyeglasses, each in a brand-new case. Since I wear glasses constantly, I have no use for cases, but I'm given one every time I walk out of the optometrist's office with a new pair of spectacles. My pile of old glasses, each carefully cased, towers like a platter of macaroons. (Eyeglass-case designers are way into color.)
When my older daughter was a child, she would occasionally set up a concession stand halfway down our long driveway. (We wouldn't let her go all the way to the road.) On the table, she would arrange a selection of fossils she'd found in the driveway gravel and wait for customers.
I'm thinking I might open a similar business. My eyeglass-case inventory will feature several designers and styles, some with patterns, some plain, but all practically new. See our display near the mailbox. Because I'm old enough to go all the way to the road.
Write to Margo Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.