UCB Parents Jokes & Quotes:
Of Telephones and Teenagers

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Of Telephones and Teenagers
 Copyright 1999 W. Bruce Cameron http://www.wbrucecameron.com/

 ====> Please do NOT remove the copyright from this essay! <=====

My teenage daughters share a special intimacy with the telephone, which
chirps in affectionate salutation the moment one of them walks in the
door.  Before I can react my daughter will answer it, settling the
handset into the phone-shaped crease which has been worn between her
neck and shoulder, and commence a two-hour conversation with the person
she sat next to on the school bus.

Reasonable people (meaning, fathers) might wonder what emergency issues
can possibly arise between the bus stop and our front door.  The answer,
apparently, is none, since my daughter's side of the conversation sounds
like this:  "So, like, I'm like, you know, like, amazed, that, like, you
know, he's like, so...I don't know, so, like, you know, like..."  (There
might be more, but at this point I become so exasperated I lose the
capacity to retain blither.)

Convinced, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that I was missing
lucrative business opportunities due to a 24-hour busy signal, I
arranged for a second line to be installed in my home.  This gives our
family the capability it has always needed: conference calling.

 "You can't tie up both lines!  I need the phone!" I rage.

 "My dad says we can't tie up both lines," my daughter dutifully

 "Get off the phone now!" I nearly shout.

 "He says I have to hang up pretty soon," she interprets.

 "NOW!" I bellow.  I make violent, daughter-strangling gestures for
emphasis.  "I'm expecting an important telephone call!"

She rolls her eyes.  "Fifteen minutes," she mouths at me.

"Get off the phone now or I will collect the clothes off of your bedroom
floor and burn them all," I warn.

With a sigh drawn from the depths of teenage angst, she surrenders one
of the lines, which rings instantly.  I snatch it up with I-told-you-so

It's for her.

 The advent of cellular phones has only served to increase my
aggravation. Yielding to the worry that our car might break down and
leave her stranded somewhere, I purchased a cell phone for my oldest
girl to use in emergencies.  To me, "emergency" means "you're 52 seconds
late for curfew; where are you?"  To my daughter, it means, "Oh m'god,
Heather like broke up with Derek AGAIN!"  The cigarette lighter adapter
allows for potentially indefinite conversations.  I'm convinced an
energy analysis would reveal that we spend more money on gasoline to
keep the phone powered than we do to drive anywhere.  My cellular
company recently informed me that I've been elected their 1999 "Man of
the Year."

For Christmas last year I was given an answering machine.  My kids wore
the thing out in three weeks.  I switched to phone company voicemail and
gained a new occupation: secretary to my children.

"Dad, these messages make no sense," my daughter complained.  "The first
one's like, Amanda called to say Heather and Derek are meeting after
school.  Then it's like, Heather's still mad about Alicia, then it says
Derek was just using Alicia to get back at Heather for Matthew, then it
says Heather and Derek are back together, and then it says she hates

"No, it says that I hate Derek," I inform her.   "You've turned me into
a scriptwriter for Days of Our Lives."  Then I advise her that because
she left my car with so little fuel it gasped to a halt a thousand yards
shy of the gas station, she may not use the telephone for the entire

She gives me a "why don't you just shoot me it would be more merciful"
expression.  "You don't understand," she accuses with undeniable
accuracy. "These are, like, the most important people in like my whole

I respond by sharing with her my interesting theory that everyone is
born with a limited supply of the word "like," and that she is coming
dangerously close to prematurely depleting her inventory.  She displays
her total fascination with my hypothesis by slamming and locking her
bedroom door and, amazingly, dialing the telephone.

"I said no phone!" I shout at her.

 "I'm calling my friends to tell them I can't talk on the phone!" she
shrieks back at me.

Like, I give up.
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