On The Light Side: Give her a day away from the phone

October 11, 2004|EMILY BURTON

There are exactly 15 things I'd rather be doing today than writing this column. Of these 15 things, I'm pretty sure about four are illegal in some small, foreign country somewhere. Seven would probably have no lasting effects on society, whereas three would be tantamount to instant infamy or at least a decent spot on the local news at noon.

My one remaining wish is this, to safely neglect my phone for one God-given day without stabbing pains of guilt. BellSouth has me dangling like Pavlov's dog and I have the phone bills to back that up. (P.S. Mom, send more phone cards.)

It wouldn't matter if I were up to my elbows in dish suds, a cold beer and a raunchy "Rent" rock ballad, the forces of nature would bend, if necessary, to allow me to answer that piercing wail of my plastic dial tone darling.

I have been known to dash past open windows clutching a hand towel in strategic places to pick up a wrong number or telemarketer.


Telemarketers are my favorite. They make me feel as though the world actually believes I have enough money or time to care about my long-distance carrier. You know you've finally made it into the real world when telemarketers actually pay someone for your number and then bother to call you, four times. They don't discriminate against late cable bills or overdue oil changes. They just want to call and welcome you into the real world, and offer you a friendly chance to reach out and touch someone.

They couldn't have better timing than a Republican joke in an On the Light Side column. For the record, I have learned my lesson and thank you for all those letters.

The art of writing letters has diminished with the influx of telemarketers. I think their obnoxious chatter sucks the will out of people to communicate with anyone else.

Just as people now say, hey, I got a telegram once, in 15 years they will look back and remember when they were sent a letter.

Handwriting in general is being replaced by fonts and voice recognition. The words "Dear Santa" have surpassed simple red crayon and moved into the realm of palm-pilot e-mails streamed from the back of the family Hummer.

Whereas old-fashioned mail carriers can surpass only wind or rain or kids on scooters, modern e-mails can overcome death itself, leaving taxes as the last great certainty in life. A company in Spain is offering people a chance to send one last e-mail after their death, distributing words of love or loathing for the deceased in return for a lifetime of low, low monthly payments.

There are exactly 12 things I rather be doing when dead in lieu of spamming my relatives. Of those 12 things, my greatest wish would ... hold on. I have to take this call.

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