June 6, 2018

Information, please.

I’ve been looking through my old LiveJournal, mining for stuff to repost and this one was just too good to pass up.

Not from my childhood but I remember there was an ‘Information’ person in our old telephone too….

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was ‘Information Please’ and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone’s number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear.
‘Information, please’ I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.


‘I hurt my finger…’ I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

‘Isn’t your mother home?’ came the question.

‘Nobody’s home but me,’ I blubbered.

‘Are you bleeding?’ the voice asked.

‘No,’ I replied. ‘I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.’

Can you open the icebox?’ she asked. I said I could.

Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger, said the voice.

After that, I called ‘Information Please’ for everything. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called, Information Please,’ and told her the sad story She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, ‘Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?’
She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, ‘Wayne, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.’ Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, ‘Information Please.’

‘Information,’ said in the now familiar voice.

‘How do I spell fix?’ I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. ‘Information Please’ belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall.
As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown Operator and said, ‘Information Please.’

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well. ‘Information.’
I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying, ‘Could you please tell me how to spell fix?’
There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, ‘I guess your finger must have healed by now.’
I laughed, ‘So it’s really you,’ I said. ‘I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?’
I wonder,’ she said, ‘if you know how much your call meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.’
I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.
‘Please do’, she said. ‘Just ask for Sally.’

Three months later I was back in Seattle, a different voice answered,
‘Information.’ I asked for Sally. ‘Are you a friend?’ she said.
‘Yes, a very old friend,’ I answered.
‘I’m sorry to have to tell you this,’ she said. ‘Sally had been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.’
Before I could hang up she said, ‘Wait a minute, is your name Wayne?’
‘Yes.’ I answered.
‘Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called.
Let me read it to you.’
The note said, ‘Tell him there are other worlds to
sing in. He’ll know what I mean.’
I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on others.

Whose life have you touched today?

Lifting you on eagle’s wings. May you find the joy and peace you long for.

Why We Fight

Yesterday afternoon, during my lunch, my girl and I texted as we almost always do.  It’s a respite in my day, and it keeps her engaged, so why not.  During the course of the conversation, she asked if we could video chat after I finished work.  I don’t live very far from where I work (a little over a mile) so the travel home is almost non-existent.  Before she moved, and changed jobs, what we used to do is have our video chats on the weekend, because she didn’t work weekends.  I do, but that’s beside the point.

Nowadays, we don’t video chat as often as we used to.  So she asks if we can during the week occasionally.  Unless there’s some pressing need for me to be home immediately (there usually isn’t) I agree, and we have our conversation. It usually lasts about an hour and then I go home.  My wife rarely says anything about why I’m late, sometimes an aside comment about me ‘dawdling’.  I either agree that I was, explain why I was, and then go about my evening.

Before I get into the meat of the post, I need to mention something.  I’m not by nature a social person.  I force myself to be, because it’s how you get along in the world.  I can be perfectly happy in a solitary space, not talking to much of anyone for hours, if not days.  When my wife and I started in our marriage, she used to try to engage me in conversation many (many!) times a day, but it’s not really me.  Nowadays, we talk about things that matter, things about the house, each other, upcoming appointments, what’s for dinner, what we might need in the larder or refrigerator and that’s about it.  We don’t generally have long protracted conversations.  She has friends for that.

Yesterday afternoon, during our video chat, we had a fight.  And it was about communication.  Mostly about the frequency of it.  When I had other submissives, we didn’t talk all that much.  We certainly didn’t talk every day, which is what my girl wishes to do.  (Insists on, more often than not) Yes, we’re a couple, and yes we’re in a relationship.  But it’s a long distance one.  Which (to me) means there can be times when we don’t talk for hours on end.  But we make a point to talk every day.  Several times a day.  It’s not in my wheelhouse, but I do it because she feels the need for it.  I’ve mentioned several times that I talk to her more than I’ve pretty much talked to anyone in my entire life.  And it’s true.  I can tell that she doesn’t get it, because she’s a social person.  People for whom conversation comes easily don’t really understand how hard it is to engage and be what they are naturally.  But again, I’m doing it for her, and to further our relationship while it’s still long distance.  (And yes, we’re working on that, trying to figure out ways to get together more often)

After we fought, there was silence.  And no, it wasn’t blissful.  I could easily tell she was still upset and on the verge of tears.  But she stoically stared into her phone and in clipped tones kept telling me she was ‘fine‘.  When she wasn’t.  And we both knew she wasn’t.  By that time we had been video chatting for about and hour, and I needed to get home.  So when I finally hung up, I knew she was going to cry.  The question at that point was, what was going to happen later.

Before dinner, I texted her to see how she was doing.  Silence.  No reply.  I followed up with a text about making dinner and would check in again later.  When I did, she popped up again.  We talked some more and though the situation isn’t completely resolved, we did talk about what happened and what to do about it.  It’s not going to be an easy fix.   Relationship nuts and bolts don’t always go in easily. Sometimes you need grease, sometimes you need to find the right nuts and bolts to make them go together.  But the upshot is, we’re conversing, not just being pissed with one another.

People in relationships fight.  But it’s what you do afterward that makes all the difference.