Sunday, April 3, 2011

the accidental boyfriend

In the movie The Accidental Tourist William Hurt plays a travel book author who lost a young son in a car accident.  It is a bittersweet story and Geena Davis won an Oscar for her role as the kooky dog therapist who befriends him.  But the interesting characters in the movie I think are the eccentric intellectual people in Hurt's family.  Two brothers and a sister and none of them are married,  living together in a big old house, never going out and seeing nothing askew about their introverted isolated lifestyle.  One brother goes to the hardware store and despite his grandiose intellect, he has a history  of not being able to find his way home.   Hours after his departure the phone rings and the assembled family members stop their conversation and stare at it. Who could that be? they wonder.  Perhaps it's our brother calling to say he's lost.  No, no he wouldn't call, he knows we won't answer the phone.  He would call the neighbors if he wanted to reach us. In the end, of course, they do not answer the phone.

This could be a scene from my childhood.  We were raised in a household that barely tolerated the telephone.  While the rest of the population heralded this ingenious invention my family chose to sulk and  mostly ignore Tom Edison's new toy.  A family of loners we were and the phone would become one more dumb reason we would have to connect with that crazy, noisy world out there.

Supper was a sacred ritual in my childhood home and God save the brother that didn't have his butt parked at the table at 5:15 exactly.  Should the phone ring all conversation would stop and my father would shove his chair back and walk to the little table in the living room. The black receiver went to his ear and he announced in a straight forward voice, "we are eating."  Receiver back in place and back to the casserole.

Dan something-something met me at a high school dance and he spent all evening telling me of Shirley who dumped him, and he showed me her picture.  Her hair was ratted and sprayed into a football helmet, the required style in the 60's. Dan also gave me a framed portrait-size picture of his senior self and I put it in the drawer under socks and my lucky rabbit's ear.  Dan would yell hi-hi-hi-hi-hi whenever I answered the phone and I found this annoying so I stopped taking his calls. One day he knocked on our front door and I recognized his '59 Chevy on the curb. My mother and I were hanging out laundry and I hissed, I don't want to talk to him and  hid behind the sheets.  Seems he wanted his picture back and my mother dug it out of my drawer.  There must be a new girlfriend somewhere, ratting her hair and waiting for his phone calls. Bye-bye-bye-bye-bye . . .

1 comment:

MrDaveyGie said...

The phone was a very bad invention. Shame on you Mr. Edison.