Amusement Park: May 2008 Archives

Those who have had the great misfortune of knowing me in ‘real’ life (I wanted to write “in person”, but the jury is still out on that one…) subsequently also know about my many strange hang-ups some of the very few quirks I possess.

I am, for example, rather notorious for not answering my telephone. At first, new acquaintances find this odd; even funny or charming. Then - as their futile calls to me remain unanswered and unreturned -  their sentiments quickly change from being amused to mildly irritated to all-out infuriated. (This poor guy, for one, can attest to that!)

Yes, alas…now you know that I never write, or call...

What can I say? No offense, Mr. Alexander G. Bell, but I for one really could have lived without your invention. (Well, yours or Philipp Reis’s. The jury is apparently still out on that one as well.)

It’s not that I despise the device per se. Besides, these days, phones are so sophisticated, some of the high-end, pricier ones, I’ve heard, can even make, pour and bring you coffee!

So why do I almost go out of my way to avoid its intended use of spoken communication then?

There really is no simple answer to this, except… well… let’s put it this way: if you think my WRITING is bad? I am utterly HOPELESS when it comes to the spoken side of things. My speech is filled with fumbling mumbling and ums and downright huhs?  (All of which, I suppose, are basically the verbal equivalents of parentheses.)

Throw into the equation that I am a little hard of hearing (remember, it’s unheard of to refer to people as ‘deaf’ nowadays), and then you might have a somewhat better understanding of why I am hung up about speaking on the phone.

Turns out the phone has picked up on my feelings towards it. And apparently it doesn’t like me much either.

The first time I ever owned a cell phone was at the youthful age of 31. (And no, cheeky bastards, that wasn’t 700 years ago.) It was in 2006 and I had just returned to after spending (or wasting… the jury is pathetically indecisive) almost a decade in the United States.

Yes, I never had a cell phone while I resided in the wired/wireless/gadget-filled first world. The , you see, isn’t just the home of the brave, it’s also the land of the free local calls from landlines.

Not that I made much use of that perk. The boy was assigned phone duty and picked up a lot of Afrikaans swear words from our home answering machine courtesy of all the furious fellow South African expats who called, and called, and called me to no avail.

Upon my return to South Africa, I became the very reluctant recipient of a mobile. I really didn’t want one, but everyone assured me that I had little choice in the matter.

That phone and I despised each other from the get-go. It used to belong to my mom and to call it a vintage would be way too kind. It was an ancient, brick of a thing. According to my mom, it worked brilliantly, so no one was more puzzled than her when the battery promptly died on me and half the buttons simply refused to work!

This led my sister to bestow unto me a VERY nice phone. A phone the price of a small second hand car. So fancy, it didn’t even HAVE buttons. Oh, no, daahlings. So stylish was that phone, it had a STYLUS.

Of course, for the longest time, I couldn’t quite figure out where exactly said stylus was located!

I had my mother use her phone to call my sister. "Where is the stylist?"


“The phone's little stick?”

After a moment she finally realised what I was on about: “Oh, ha ha! The STYLUS!"

"Right, that's what I said."

She sighed. "It’s there, in the phone.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Maybe it fell out. Check the box.”

“I have. Nothing.”

“No, it’s there. Really.”

I finally had to go to a cellular shop in the mall. I’m very relieved to say that none of the employees in the first two stores knew how to locate the mysterious stylus. I’d like to believe that it was a sign that I’m not quite as dumb as I look, but it’s more likely that those employees and I enjoy the same superior level of idiocy.

Finally, a woman at the third store made the stylus appear as if by magic. In fact, I could have sworn that she even waved it around smugly, like a wand, for a split second!

I’m sure she was highly annoyed at the injustice that such a luxurious device could be wasted on the likes of me! I could almost TELL that she thought I was way too inferior to have such a sophisticated, sleek phone in my possession.

Thatinitial seek-the-stylus frustration should have served as an omen for the humiliating thingsthat were to come. Because right off the bat, that phone also went all erraticand stubborn on me - after having performed flawlessly for my sister, ofcourse! To this day, I’m still convinced that the woman in the shop had placeda curse on me when she waved the stylus around like that!

After ashort-lived but intensely frustrating relationship, that phone also came to amysterious demise. I swear it had nothing to do with the fact that it hadaccidentally slipped from my clumsy hands so many times… Surely it couldn’thave been that? It had seemed so sturdy!

Besides,I’m convinced it was suicide. I think it poked itself to death with its ownstylus!

When itdied, I didn’t shed a tear, but I have to confess that I really do miss thatphone’s ability to take pictures of dogs. (And here I would have linked to myfacebook page, but I couldn’t do that to you. Also? I really shouldn’t insultcanines like that.)

After all,isn’t that what phones are for? To take pictures?

But despite all those cell phones shriveling up and spontaneously dying in mypresence, I have sadly NOT been banned from owning one.

In fact, mylandlady was even brave enough to loan me hers. And that’s the one I stillhave. A vintage old Nokia. No bells and whistles. (Although it does make awhistling sound when I sometimes try to hear the countless exasperated voicemails my friends have left me, pleading with me to PLEASE, since I’m NEVERgoing to call them, at least have the decency to answer my own phone then!

I swearthough, sometimes, after I had spent hours staring at that very silent phone, Iget a beep informing me that I have just missed a call! And no, of course no one believes me... (Oh, and one of my friends is unable to send me text messages, because I never receive them. Only from that particular friend. And no, of course she doesn't believe me. And yes, she has the correct number!)

Recentlythough, it actually RANG! And I must’ve gotten such a fright from the unusualnoise of it RINGING IN MY PRESENCE, that I actually ANSWERED it!

Mysalutation must’ve conveyed my surprise, because a very apprehensive voicesaid: “Miss Redsaid?”

My heartsank. And then began beating furiously. I sensed that this person's tone was way too formal for this to bea social call.

“This isMr. K calling from ***** Bank.”

Oh, no! Thebank calling. That could NOT be good. I was suddenly very sure that he wascalling to inform me that it was a criminal, account-closing offense to be asperpetually broke as I am.

So when hesaid: “I’m calling to ask if you would be interested to purchase our exclusive, one-timeonly, funeral policy”, I was SO relieved, I immediately burst out laughing.

Mr. K’sstartled silence was almost audible.

“Um…” he said.

“Sorry,” Imanaged through the laughter. “I’m sure this isn’t the reaction you arenormally met with.”

“No,indeed.” Mr. K, the bank’s funeral policy man, replied in a suitably solemntone.

“Mr. K,it’s very kind of you to think of me for this exclusive, one-time-only offer,but you don’t understand. Right now? I need every single penny I have TO ACTUALLY STAYALIVE.”

“But Ms.Red, we actually have various plans. And the most inexpensive one we have is socheap, it works out to only xx cents per MONTH!”

He wasworking this sales call, so Mr. K was!

“Mr. K, IASSURE you. That minuscule amount? I often don’t even have that much left atthe end of the month.”

“NO!” Hesaid.

“YES!” SaidI.

“But, Ms.RED! What, if I may ask, is it that you DO for a living then?”

“Oh, I’mjust a working stiff.” (Sadly, my little pun seemed to be utterly lost on Mr.K.)  “I put the ‘free’ in freelance.”

“What isthat?”

“I write.”

“Wow.Really? Have you written anything I may have read?”

“Well, Idon’t know what you’ve read, so I wouldn’t know...”

“Right, haha!”

“Actually,Mr. K. The fact that I’m as broke as I am should tell you exactly what aterrible and very obscure writer I am.”

“But Ms.Red, if you purchase this funeral coverage that amounts to the minuscule amountof xx cents per month, your family won’t have any worries about your funeralwhen you die. And Ms. Red? You DO realise that you ARE going to die, don’tyou?” He added rather ominously.

“NO! Irefuse!” I cried… Okay, I didn’t really. “Do you know something I don’t, Mr.K?” No, okay, I didn’t ask that either. But I did tell him that luckily, afterI’m dead, I’m pretty sure that I won’t worry much about my own funeral either.Whether I have purchased the policy-for-mere-pennies or not!

“Ms. Red!Listen, I feel so awful for you, I almost want to buy you this coverage foryou!”

“I betthat’s what you say to all the girls.”


“That’s allright, Mr. K. Really. Very generous of you, but I assure you it’s fine.”

“You know,Ms. Red, it doesn’t even matter HOW you die. There will be no medical check-upbefore or after the fact.”

“Wow,that’s reassuring. So you mean to tell me that I'd be able to get this insurance even with a knife stuck in myheart, its blade piercing the last bit of life out of me?”


 “So you’ll pay out even for writerswho have offed themselves by gnawing off their own wrists?”

“Indeed, wewill.”

“Even forpoverty-stricken writers who starve to death?” (Had it been video-calling, hewould’ve seen how tragically unlikely it is that THAT would ever happen!)

“Hahahahahaha.Ms. Red, you are very funny.” And suddenly, in a pleading, panicky voice, hesaid: “Please let me purchase this on your behalf?”

“Mr. K, nowyou are making me feel so bad about not buying this coverage from you, I couldjust about die from the guilt!”

“NO, Ms.Red! Please don’t!”

“Why shouldit make any difference to you whether I live or die, Mr. K? You don’t even knowme?”

“Becauseyou don’t own our one-time only, exclusive funeral coverage plan!” 


And that’salso why I hate the phone. Because when I DO answer it, it reminds me of allthe qualities that I lack/don’t possess. Like a pleasant speaking voice*. And yes,let’s not forget:

(All together now!)

Thatone-time only, exclusive, funeral coverage plan!

*As much asI would have liked for this rather lengthy discussion with Mr. K to have beenmy very last call ever? I’m afraid it might not be. You see, despite having been subjected to my hideous voice several times before, one of THESE cowboys still want to do a Podcast with thelikes of me!!! To actually put on their site!

And no, ofCOURSE I will never link to it if it does end up happening!

is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)


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  • Po : Those questions run through my heads for various times in my life too, that is for sure!... [go]
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