November 2021

Mazel & Mishagoss: The Phantom of the Cellphone

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By Stephanie Lewis

“Happy Chanukah! Are you okay?” My mother is breathless. “You’re not lying hurt on the side of the road, are you? Because I see I’ve missed three calls from you not saying a thing!” Confession: I regularly hang up on my mom’s outgoing phone announcement because she gives painful instructions on waiting for beeps, admonishes her callers to speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and requires them to give the date and time of their call. (She also says she’s “indisposed.” Who says that?) By the time she’s all done specifying protocol for leaving a message, I could fry up some latkes and bring them to her in person.

But on this particular occasion, I haven’t called her at all, let alone three times. However, something is odd because my cellphone log shows I’ve telephoned my mother thrice within ten-minutes. Odder still, an hour later I receive a message from my old Avon lady thanking me for contacting her and announcing light blue shimmery eyeshadows just came in and how surprised she is to hear my voice after all these decades. I envision her hobbling up to front porches, ringing doorbells, gleefully screeching, “Avon calling!”

Moments later my long-lost Tupperware representative calls, claiming I just rang her up and promptly disconnected when she answered. She wants to know if I want to schedule a Tupperware party? “Does the word ‘Ziploc’ mean anything to you?” I retort.

What’s the deal with my cellphone calling people from the 1970’s? It’s like the reverse of people who insult me by saying, “The 70’s called. They want their Farrah Fawcett hairstyle back.”

At the kitchen table, I scrutinize my mobile device suspiciously as I eat cottage cheese w/pineapple and lime Jell-O. It doesn’t dial up Dorothy Hamill or Billy Jean King. Whew!

But just as I swallow some curds, it emanates an ominous glow, and a notification pops up “1 outgoing call.” Seriously? This is no pocket or purse dial! I had my eye on it the entire time. Paging Rod Serling! Or is this Siri’s revenge for when I drowned her in the washing machine?

When I see who this call is from, it’s the Rabbi from Los Angeles who oversaw my Bat Mitzvah in 1977. I know he told me that was only the start of my Jewish education and to check in with him to let him know how I was progressing, but this is ridiculous!

I install an update to make my cellphone more current, yanking it out of the past. Only now, not only does it continue making random embarrassing calls by itself, (my dentist, Uber, and D.Z. Akins) but it actually starts efficiently connecting people together from my online address book via its 3-way conference calling feature! It introduces the following contacts to each other:

1)My gynecologist to my pregnant girlfriend

2) My Weight-Watcher leader to my chocoholic brother

3) My wedding planner to my divorce attorney

4) Dr. Harris (my Cocker Spaniel’s vet) to Harrison (a cocky Vietnam vet)

5) My son’s football coach to my life coach

6) My handyman (who fixes stuff) to my neighbor (a broken-down divorcee)

7) My personal clothing shopper (Nan) to a Nun (who never removes her habit) and

8) My therapist to…you guessed it, my mother! (Perhaps so she can analyze why nobody ever leaves her a voicemail?)

And now that I’m Chanukah shopping in earnest, I discovered a new popular trend on the market – a clear plastic food storage container (with a burping seal!) that contains . . . wait for it…six frosted pink lipsticks. And that’s when I knew the Phantom of the Cellphone struck again – this time he’d actually gone and connected my Tupperware gal with my Avon lady. Bravo!

Stephanie D. Lewis will bring humor to whatever you need made more funny! Google her on The Huffington Post to see her portfolio. Thequotegal@yahoo.com

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