Hell froze over a few months ago when my father decided to start texting. Though millions of people around the world have been texting, Tweeting, Facebooking and Skyping at each other for years, my dad doesn’t even have an email account. He trusts only three modes of communication: snail mail, the telephone, as in the kind that’s plugged into a wall, and talking to someone face-to-face.
A simple man with simple tastes.
However, my sister and I did manage to convince him a few years back that it was time to get a cell phone. He warily gave in, but as it turns out, now calls more often from his cell than landline. As he puts it, “Well, I got over 800 units on this thing that I need to use by next March, and I don’t talk to anyone but you and your sister.” However, his tolerance of cell phones is fairly limited to just his own.
My sister is notorious for not ever picking up the phone, regardless of whether it’s her cell or houseline. Because she is just as notorious for being a homebody, I can’t count the number of times I’ve left her a message that goes a little something like this: “Mila? Hey! Are you there? Mila? Mi-la. I know you’re there… Are you not there? Okay, I just wanted to…” That’s when puts me out of my misery and finally picks up the damn phone. But whenever I’m with my father and he tries to call my sister, I can see the cartoon-like smoke coming out of his ears when it goes to voicemail, which it always does. I think he finds it insulting that my sister won’t pick up even for him, although she can’t know it’s him until he leaves her a message. (My sister may or may not have caller ID. Regardless, I’d bet good money that she never cares to check it. She’s fairly unprejudiced like that.)
My father gets just as angry with me whenever we’re on the phone and the call drops. Inevitably, it is my fault. When I call him back, I am usually greeted with a “what was that all about?” I then apologize for my inferior iPhone capabilities, to which he replies, “My phone never drops calls.”
Given our family’s cell phone dramatics, I suppose I shouldn’t have been that surprised when my dad made the leap to text messaging. However, it felt like I had witnessed a fish walk onto land, sprout wings, and fly into the air; a few evolutionary steps had been skipped. My dad still doesn’t own a computer. Yet one day he happened to mention being bored, which I guess is normal when you’re retired. An hour later I was the recipient of his very first text message.
He’s been a texting machine ever since.
We still chat about the same subjects – sports and the weather – except now I get little notes from him ala “I’m about to watch the Cubs lose their eighth in a row” or “I hear there’s a storm coming through, so be careful.” While I appreciate these updates, I’m beginning to feel a bit slighted by my father. Is there a reason why he can’t pick up the phone every once in a while to say hello?
Granted, my dad still worries that I’m somehow accruing additional cell phone charges if we’re on the line for more than ten minutes. We’ll be in the middle of a conversation when all of a sudden I hear him say, “Well, I don’t wanna use up all your minutes.” Though I have told him multiple times that my phone plan allows me to talk to him whenever I want, he still deems it necessary to wrap up our chat fairly quickly, which leads me to believe a different theory as to why my father no longer wants to speak to his baby daughter.
I can talk a lot.
Though in the past I’ve said that my dad and I share great communication skills, in retrospect I’m realizing that perhaps we’ve been having rather one-sided conversations. Because he’s my dad, I feel comfortable espousing my views to him on pretty much anything and everything. While I may feel remorseful when making my friends suffer through one of my tangents, I don’t feel those pangs of guilt with my father. After all, he’s my dad. Isn’t it his job to put up with me? No questions asked? Which, by the way, is exactly what happens. I don’t give him the chance to ask questions even if he wanted to, but the moment I take a breath before resuming my tirade, that’s when I hear, “Well, I don’t wanna use up all your minutes.”
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I will be calling you on Sunday whether you like it or not.
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