For months, it had nestled there in the pocket on the back. Upstairs and down, wherever The Girl went, it had gone as well. To the back room, doing laundry. To the coffee shop, writing the column. To the office, typing reports. To the grocery store, restocking the larder. There, too, went the Pearly Pink Phone.
It had traveled miles, the PPP, in the pocket of the infamous bag. Had been dialed incessantly by the house when gone; in particular, by a VSP (Very Small Person) who’d memorized its number at the tender age of 4.
To the surprise of its owner, review of a recent bill had shown that the title of MFT (Most Frequent Texter) no longer went to one of the young adults. This finding was noted with chagrin, and when the topic arose once over the family’s dinner, She of the Texting Fingers executed a swift and decisive subject change (“how ‘bout them Hoosiers”) that narrowly avoided a second Spanish inquisition.
It had been, that small, simple device, a Cord of Maternal Love stretching between the owner and her offspring. Many a “where r u?” query had been sent, followed, on occasion, with one that read like this, “Hie thyself home,” depending on the answer.
Even fashion questions had been asked and answered, using the pearly pink phone. Soon after the eldest texter had gone out into the great, wide world (i.e., college), his mother’d received a message one day.
It was a photo. In it, a T-shirt and a pair of shorts had been carefully draped over a dorm room counter. Below it were these words, “Does this match?”
There’d been, the curly-headed owner reflected, countless phone calls from the small fry at home. Only God and her cell phone provider knew the number. But one thing was certain—those kids knew her number, and they weren’t afraid to use it.
“Can I pack a cookie in my lunch?” was an all-too-familiar question. This, in a small, high-pitched voice that left no doubt as to who was calling.
“Can we open the chips? Can we have ice cream? Can we stay up ‘til the cows come home and leave again?” Such were the urgent communications received when the parents of the persistent dialers were out for the evening.
Then, on a recent, stormy day, the pink phone rang down at the coffee shop where the mother had fled to write. It was the house. “No school!” someone, a minor, growled on the other end. “Bring doughnuts.”
To the prolific texter’s great delight, there’d been messages from a girlfriend, herself the proud owner of a Purse of a Certain Color. Faithfully, she’d report orange purse sightings to the holder of the PPP, and together they’d rejoice that their fashion sense was still strong. (Hey. Don’t judge. You fellows thump each others’ backs and kick each others’ tires over the latest IU scores. You’ve got your thing. We have ours.)
Anyway. As I was saying, for a girl who worked from home, seldom leaving the property, the little phone was her connection to the outside world and her beloved circle of friends.
It was also a connection to Certain Someone who’d piffled and whiffled when the subject of cell phones first arose. Now, however, he was sold. Hooked. Smitten. Dependent on his own VSP (Very Smart Phone) to keep his schedule, set reminders, contact clients and run his business. Oh, yes. And to get hold of his wife.
Every Friday morning at the high, round table, the phone would beep. “You can order now,” he’d text on his way into town.
“Where r u?” This on a Saturday night at the mall.
“Looking at shoes,” I might reply, chuckling to myself at the beads of sweat this would raise on his brow. “And purses,” I’d add, knowing how he’d blanch when he read it.
“Come quick. Save your kids!” How many of those had I sent, a maternal SOS tapped out on the keyboard of the pearly pink phone? Without fail, I’d receive a reply from Billy Graham himself (or someone who sounded suspiciously like him) with orders to “pass this on.”
So it was that one fateful night when I went to check my phone, it wasn’t me who turned weak in the knees. It was him.
For unknown reasons, it simply quit. A strange dampness on the back hinted as to what could have happened. No One, of course, knew anything, Nobody claimed responsibility and a quick two days later, I found myself at the phone store with Mr. Schrock, a man on a mission with the cash in hand to fund it.
Now, Mama’s got her own VSP (Very Smart Phone) that does everything but scratch her back and start the coffee. The kids are calling, The Mister’s texting, my fellow orange purse fanatic is checking in and the phone’s a-buzzing in its bright orange cover. In the pocket of the bright orange purse.