My old phone is the standard Costco cordless. Boring in 10 different ways, except for perhaps the banner on it. I love changing banner messages on my phones. I do it all the time and right now the one in my bedroom reads 1COOLMOM because, well, I am. In the kitchen the phone banner says OWWBABY and I recently programmed the one in Jason's office to display GOHELPWIFE.
The messages have become pretty tame over the years since Josh learned to read. I like to program my friend's phones too when they're not looking. There are a few houses here in Brentwood with banners reading things such as DODDSROCK and CALLDODDS. In fact, I once programmed my friend's phone banner to read DODDSRCOOL, and she never changed it after moving out of state. "I think of you every time I hold my phone," she told me. And I like that.
But since I have a new desk, I thought a new phone with a different style would be a nice decorative touch. My train of thought left the station and went like this: new black desk, need fancy phone, old-fashioned equals retro, retro sounds like rotary, wa-lah! I looked everywhere for a rotary phone. And I found a couple - for a few hundred bucks. Good Lord, I had no idea.
Of course, rotary-esque phones are available at any Pottery Barn, but I wanted something that actually dialed and did its job. Made calls, rang alarmingly loud, and would become a conversation piece to everyone who entered my home office. (Who that would ever be other than me or Jason, I don't know - but still, I dug the idea.)
I called my dad and complained about the expense of a real rotary phone. "Four hundred dollars," I said. "People on eBay want four hundred dollars for a rotary phone." He laughed and said I could have all three of the phones he and my mom had stored in the garage. I could hardly wait.
Two of the telephones they delivered needed some wiring to work correctly, but one that didn't was a mustard yellow wall phone, circa 1972. I know this because it was the very first phone I ever used. I cradled that yellow handset between my shoulder and my ear while stretching its mile long cord across our kitchen during the 1970s until it was removed from the wall and banished to the garage sometime during the 1980s. My dad proudly hung it in the garage (and used it) until my mother replaced it with a pushbutton phone on a whim. "Rotary is out …" she said coolly. "Everyone has pushbutton phones these days." And we never saw it again.
I thanked them profusely and because I did, my mom became a little anxious about giving me such a treasure. No matter that it had long ago been exiled to storage due to its "horrific color" and tedious dialing requirement - she now gazed at it with a new appreciation. I could see an internal struggle blooming.
"Thank you," I told her pointedly, hugging the phone to my chest.
"That's an antique," she hesitated. "I don't know, Bill. Shouldn't we keep it for nostalgic sake?"
"You've had this boxed up for years, and I'm going to actually use this … for nostalgic sake." I tried hard to not panic.
She pursed her lips together. "Well … (pause) … OK … for now."
I breathed a sigh of relief and went happily about hanging it on the wall.
And while my kitchen is up one mustard yellow wall rotary wall phone, my office remains phone free for the time being. But I don't care; nobody ever comes in it, anyway.
Carolyn Dodds can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.