by Louis Jenkins
In the old days telephones were made of
rhinoceros tusk and were big and heavy enough
to be used to fight off an intruder. The telephone
had a special place in the front hallway, a shrine
built into the wall, a niche previously occupied
by the blessed virgin, and when the phone
rang it was serious business. "Hello." "One if
by land and two if by sea." "What?" "Unto you
a child is born." "What?" "What did he say?"
"Something about the Chalmers' barn." The
voice was carried by a single strand of bare wire
running from coast to coast, wrapped around a
Coke bottle stuck on a tree branch, dipping low
over the swamp, it was the party line, all your
neighbors in a row, out one ear and in another.
"We have a bad connection, I'm having trouble
Nowadays telephones are made of recycled
plastic bags and have multiplied to the point
where they have become a major nuisance.
The point might ring at you from anywhere, the
car, the bathroom, under the couch cushions...
Everyone hates the telephone. No one uses the
telephone anymore so telephones, out of habit
or boredom or loneliness perhaps, call one
another. "Please leave a message at the tone."
"I'm sorry, this is a courtesy call. We'll call back at
a more convenient time. There is no message."