Caller Identity Crisis

January 13, 2011

I had vowed to myself that I would hold out, but a bout of car sickness on the commute one evening swayed me and, several months ago, I surrendered and got a cell phone.

I use it hesitantly.

Paloma is about the only person who I call using the cell. I haven’t even bothered to set up voice mail and, in fact, don’t even know the number as I have not given it to anyone.

(there’s at least a couple of 8s and, maybe a 9 – I think)

Paloma has suggested the fiscally prudent idea of jettisoning the landline.

But I know the landline’s number.

I’ve had it for longer than I have ever had a phone number.

It is the number that friends who I haven’t spoken to in years have for me.

In fact, it is the efforts to be more diligent in reconnecting with some long-time friends that has brought this existential angst over what is my phone number to the surface.

Since the holidays, I have made calls to a number of friends with whom I have not spoken to in far too long. As the cell phone has – as Paloma explained to me – free long-distance and several of these friends are long-distance, I have used the cell.

And I have not known what to say when I’m asked if the cell phone number is my number.

(as opposed to the number I have been known as for as long as I’ve known them)

This has resulted in a far-too lengthy explaination from me that I pay little attention to the cell phone and that the landline is still the line of choice, but, as Paloma crashes early and the phone is in the bedroom, don’t call too late, however…

I cannot bring myself to embrace the cell phone or its unfamiliar number.

In college, my buddy Streuss had a phone number that spelled out “cowslaw,” a fact that he understandably boasted of on his outgoing message, reminding callers that they had reached the “cowslaw headquarters and hotline.”

(I sometimes wonder what his outgoing message might have been had his time with the “cowslaw” number coincided with the celebrated period during which he was the self-declared “Man Who Loves All Women”)

Perhaps it might work if this cell number spells something groovy like cowslaw.

Maybe I’d feel better about the cell phone if I referred to it as my mobile, pronouncing mobile as though I was British…like James Bond.

I haven’t been this confused about my phone number since I was four.

As far as I know, I only have three songs whose titles are phone numbers…

Squeeze – 853-5937
from Babylon And On

My buddy Streuss made me aware of Squeeze in high school with their compilation Singles – 45’s And Under. I think he had discovered it through a favorable review in Rolling Stone.

(it was ’82, we had no MTV or modern rock stations, and Rolling Stone was still worth reading)

Then, five years later, the band finally had a couple of radio hits in the US with the manic Hourglass and 853-5937. I couldn’t really remember the latter until I listened to it again.

It’s not bad, but it’s no Pulling Mussels (From The Shell) or Cool For Cats.

The Time – 777-9311
from What Time Is It?

The Prince-guided funk band The Time makes me think of a good friend from college who loved the band. He was a talented bass player who bounced around to different bands, one which even put out a couple albums on a small label in the ’80s.

I’ve never delved into The Time’s catalog, but I’ve always dug the handful of tracks I do know, including the opportunistic 777-9311.

Sometimes when I see someone being rude or obnoxious in public, I can’t help but hear frontman Morris Day in Purple Rain say, “Such nastiness” as he shakes his head.

Tommy Tutone – 867-5309/Jenny
from Tutone 2

Of course.