So now that we’ve had our first real cold snap here in Northern Colorado, I’ve decided it’s time to get the camper winterized. And as I’m on the phone with the RV guys, my wife says something to me. I don’t know about you, but I’m not one of those people who can hold two conversations at the same time. If I’m on the phone with someone, that is where my attentions are focused. Which means that anyone else trying to communicate with me comes across much like the sound made by all the adults in the old ‘Peanuts’ cartoons on TV.
It is a game my spouse and I have played for lo these many years. If, for instance, I’m calling the kids, she suddenly has some dire message for them that she feels compelled to have me deliver on her behalf. But all I hear is “wah wah, wuh wuh waahh, wah wuh wah wah…”
Which invariably leads to my ‘What The Hell’ face, thus prompting her to repeat herself, slower and with more conviction. “WAH WAH, WUH WUH WAAHH, WAH WUH WAH WAH…”
This would be the point at which I turn away and cover my exposed ear, because not only can I still not make out what she is telling me, I no longer have any idea what has been said by the person with whom I’m conversing on the phone. Undeterred, she steps into my line of vision and starts to make exaggerated hand gestures to accompany her wah-wahing, the thought being (I assume) that simulating the signals for landing an F-15 on the deck of an aircraft carrier will get her message across. Instead, I’m totally flummoxed by the additional visual stimulation and have resorted to my own hand gestures, mainly trying to wave her off without dropping the phone.
For the love of all that is holy, wasn’t there something in our wedding vows about “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not speak while others are on the phone…”
Finally I give in, because we’re only a week or two away from the arrival of our first grandchild, so she might want to share some crucial last-minute information about the delivery procedure or what essentials the DIL should have in her go-bag. “Hold on, your mother is trying to tell me something,” I mumble by way of an apology to my son, then turn back to my wife with the look that says ‘This better be good.’
“I just wanted you to be sure and tell them I said ‘hello,’” she offers.
I pause because there’s always a momentary loss of verbal capabilities when my head explodes. “We just saw them two days ago. I’m pretty sure they haven’t forgotten about you”
“But you were already talking to them,” she retorts, somewhat indignantly. “I was just trying to be nice.”
According to researchers, attempting to converse with a spouse who is on the phone is the second leading cause of divorce and third leading cause of homicide among married couples (it drives the narrative – just go with it). To combat this problem, I am working on an app that will, utilizing the latest in voice recognition technology and artificial intelligence, record any incoming conversations from external sources, extract the salient points (provided there are any) and inject them into the phone discussion at the appropriate juncture. Barring that, my backup plan is for a small umbrella-like device to deploy from one’s cell phone and envelop the user in a modern-day Cone of Silence, a personal version of the one Maxwell Smart had at his disposal.