My Cell Phone

When I was a kid, one of the shouted refrains that frequently braced our house was "the phone is ringing!" This was an indirect speech act, of course, meaning someone else answer the phone!

Last night I managed the nearly impossible: knocked my cell phone off of the bed and into (splash!) a class of water. No rim contact: a perfect swish.

Retrieved (Chooch helped by licking it a few times; thanks Chooch!), the phone was highly dysfunctional. No worries, though: I heard recently about this fix for drenched cell phones, and after a few hours in the oven, it was working just fine.

I got to thinking a tad, just a tad, about the difference between referring to the phone vs. my phone or your phone. When I was kid, it was the phone that rang; now, it's increasingly my phone or your phone. This makes sense, of course, given the increasingly one-to-one ratio of users not only to phones, but phone numbers. In this way, "phone" stands in for phone line, at least kinda. Whereas there were even a few party lines back in the '70s, with multiple households sharing the same line, today it seems everyone has their own number and phone. Well, not everyone, but many of us.

So let me get this straight: if I said "the phone fell into a glass of water," I'm guessing you'd think I meant I was talking about a phone connected to a land line (not that I have one). If I said "my phone fell into the glass of water, kersplash!" you'd think cell phone, right? (And if you're Chooch, you'd get thirsty.)

I have no idea where Skype falls in the particularity vs. generality of phone and phone-line lingo. I do know, however, that Skype Out is set to start charging on Jan 1—a major bummer, if you ask me.


  1. There is also the somewhat related issue: When someone calls "your" phone they expect to get "you." In our house, for instance, when pb's phone rings, and she is busy, I always have an inner debate if I should answer it, even if the person calling (Caller ID, natch) is someone I know just as well as she does.

    By the way, in my house in college, we had a game/rule about answering the phone: as soon as the phone rang you had to yell "ringing" as loud as you could. Last one to yell had to answer the phone no matter how close or far away the nearest phone was. It was a stupid system.

  2. No doubt: answering someone else's cell phone is waaaaay surprising when you're the caller. I also like the way some people (and I do this) still pretend to not know who's calling, even though the caller ID inevitably gives it away.

    "Ringing!" :) Love that one! (I'm thinking of taking that practice up with cell-phones ringing on the bus -- just to see what happens.)

  3. Wish I'd known this when I got olive oil in my cell phone. How did I get olive oil in my phone, you ask? Well, I'd been eating stuffed grape vine leaves from a can, thrown away the can (bad katka). JT then emptied the kitchen garbage, which was having some kind of leak, and my bag happened to be on the way to the outdoor garbage pail with my cell phone inside it. Forensic analysis suggested this highly improbably scenario was in fact the source of the contamination. I pulled all the bits of my phone apart and windexed 'em, but the smell...