Lunar Observer

It’s a good week to celebrate the telephone

Bumping into someone on the street, but by phone

Lunar Observer

Don’t be afraid. You can call me.

Lunar Observer

It’s a good week to celebrate the telephone

Bumping into someone on the street, but by phone

Lunar Observer records upcoming dates of interest: holidays, birthdays, best day to cut hair.

This Wednesday, January 25, marks a few anniversaries in the field of telecommunications: Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell form the Oriental Telephone Company in 1881; Bell makes the first transcontinental telephone call, New York to San Francisco, in 1915; JFK delivers the first presidential news conference to air live on TV, 1961; the Opportunity rover lands on the surface of Mars. Wednesday is as good a day as any to text or straight-up call someone on the telephone and shoot the shit.

Now if calling people on the phone freaks you out, I understand that. I text a lot of people. That’s my primary mode of telecommunication nowadays. I like texting because you can take your time, you can send someone something sort of frivolous without feeling like you’re encroaching on their busy schedule, and you know you’re not going to get tied up in some awkward conversation that doesn’t know how to end, you can just sort of drift out. Texting is fun, and nice, and considerate, and by contrast makes calling people on the phone seem rude. But sometimes it’s nice to not be so considerate! Especially with a buddy, whether extant or long-lost. Call them up and shoot the shit!

Right now the people who regularly call me up are three in number — my mom and two friends. One of the friends is extremely warm and effusive, calling to say she saw something that reminded her of me, how am I? The other is also very effusive (got a lot of effusive friends) and calls me in moments when he’s walking from a train to wherever he’s going, usually to run some cockamamie idea past me, or to ask where on the shelf to put Little Richard, in the L’s or the R’s? Both of these friends have to their advantage a sort of fury — they bust in the room, have something to say or ask, possibly just a pretext, possibly very flimsy, they get right into it without rigmarole, and they depart. If you can manage this sort of focus and relative oblivion, this is a tried and true phone style. “Hey, I have a quick question about [pretext], you got a minute?”

Texting is fun, and nice, and considerate, and by contrast makes calling people on the phone seem rude.

If you’re generally nervous on the phone, and you don’t have a strong entrance, the best thing to have is a clear exit. “I’m walking from the train, and I just wanted to gab for a sec, are you in the middle of anything?” is perfect because eventually you’ll get to where you’re going and you can say without hesitation, “Hey, I gotta go, great talking to you, but I’m here.” It’s also wonderful because it reinforces the desired mood, which is “bumping into someone in the street.”

With respect to all callers, I don’t think it always matters that you have something to say or what it is — the bulk of a friendship isn’t deep thoughts, it’s having the same rhythm for trivialities. While it’s nice to exchange ideas, sometimes a phone call is nice because you’re hearing a voice, they’re hearing your voice, you’re moving your voices in concert, it’s nice. The Opportunity rover has stayed in contact with the Earth more than 12 years longer than was planned, not because it was sending groundbreaking messages, but because we just stayed in contact, sending small amounts of data back and forth. That’s the goal. You’re Just Calling. And any time you Just Call, you’re Just Calling To Say I Love You.

Again, Wednesday, January 25. New York to SF. JFK to USA, Earth to Mars.

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Jacob Khepler is the main writer and publisher of Mothers News. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.