80’s Phone Etiquette at the Palmer House

66861The girl and I had dinner al fresco by the garden tonight.

T: “When I get a phone, i want a pink one.”

Me: “It’s gonna be a while before you get your own phone.”

T: “How old were you when you got your own phone?”

Me: “Um, well, in my late 20s. We didn’t have cel phones until then.”

T: [slack-jawed stare]

Me: “We shared a phone. One of those ones on the wall, and then later we had them in every room, but we all shared the same line.”

T: “What’s a line?”

Me: “Well, like, I could be on the phone in my room, talking to a friend, and my pesky little sister might quietly pick hers up in her room to try and hear my conversation.”

Tiller gasps.

Me: “Or, the phone rings, and two people in the house pick up at the same time, so you could all talk on the same line, except that if your sister’s friend was calling, you just stayed quiet, and you might hear something good you could use against her later.”

Horror. Pure horror on her face.

Me: “OR, say you like a boy, and that boy actually gets the balls to call you, because let’s face it, usually he would have a friend of his, or a friend of yours, ask you if you like him. Because at that age, they are all basically scared. And if they weren’t scared, you should watch out. So, say the boy calls, but it is dinner time. First of all, your dad might pick up the phone, because you are not allowed to answer the phone during dinner. Except, when it is a boy on the other line, and they asked for you, Grandpa would say, ‘I’m sorry, but she can’t make it to the phone right now. She’s eating dinner. May I ask who’s calling? Oh, okay, JOOOHHHNNN.” (Yes, he’d say it like that. ‘We don’t like to entertain calls during dinner time. Or after 10 pm on a school night, either.'”

The look on her face. Disbelief and pure pity.
“And then you would lose your appetite, and cry and stomp away to slam the door to your room. Except you would be hungry like ten minutes later, because you exercised and played outside for like 4 hours straight, and no matter how much you eat, you are always hungry and you never get fat.”

Okay, I lie. I didn’t say that part, because we don’t really talk about body stuff.

I said, “Tiller, can you imagine how horrifying it was for Papaw Palmer to pick up the phone when a boy you like called? Or worse yet, for a dumb boy to call too late at night?”

Tiller just put her head in her hands.

“I had no idea it was that bad back then. I’m so sorry.”

6 Responses to “80’s Phone Etiquette at the Palmer House”

  1. Becky says:

    My father would answer the phone with all sorts of weird greetings “City Morgue, you stab ’em, we slab ’em”, “City Zoo, Monkey house”, and so on. That wasn’t even the worst though. The worst was the third degree he’d give anyone that called, especially boys.

    I’m so, so sad we can’t do that to our girl. Is that wrong?

  2. Dogwood Girl says:

    Thanks! Hope to write more often!

  3. Laura Marett says:

    Lol. I’ve told the story you wrote about plugging in an old phone for work & forgetting it was plugged in & then it rang & your kids had no idea what that sound was! Hilarious. ????

  4. Dogwood Girl says:

    I still tell that pretty often, Laura. It was one of the funniest things I’ve experienced.

  5. Judy Overby says:

    I enjoy your funky stories????

  6. Dogwood Girl says:

    Thank you, Judy! I enjoy your bird photos very very much.

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