Monday, February 8, 2016

Please Leave A Message...


    I was wondering today about Babs.

    You know Babs — she’s that girl.

    Time was, I never so much as gave her a call.

    She did not exist in my life.

    But things move on, and one day she showed.

    This is how it happened.


    We all know smartphones are inherently stupid.

    No matter how many times you switch them off, or transform them into cunningly encrypted vaults thanks to nefarious lockscreens and passwords, they always try to bust themselves out of the loop by making the next call.

    Back in the day, pockets and handbags served only as passive receptacles for loose change, keys, and every shade of lipstick, but since the advent of the smartphone, they have blossomed into entities blessed with basic powers of initiative.

    These vacuous sink-spaces can dial numbers.

    And when that happens, all charge whaps out of your phone and bulks out someone’s answerphone with two hours of unremitting mmmmmmfkkfkfhhhhhffffhpppphhffffkfkpfffhfhfh.

    Worse still, it’s always the same someone.

    He or she is right there at the top of your Contacts list, the default option for any calls made by your keys or sneakily hidden chocolate bars.

    “Hey, Whirl,” comes the eventual reply, “just calling to let you know it’s happened again.  What are you doing?  Swimming with dolphins?  Suffocating with elephants?”

    (This is Baz, btw.  He believes himself to be amusing.)

    “Fuck off, Baz,” I say, deleting the message as a Mongol executioner would dismember the bodies of his enemies.  “I’m renaming you Twatface.”

    That’s when I had a much better idea.

    Shuffling Baz deeper into the alphabetical pack would only mean subjecting someone else to occasional bursts of prolonged mufflepocketry.

    And because that someone else was Carl’s Muscle Studio, no way was I about to risk revealing my muffles to a tattooed maneater from Galway.

    Fate dictated I needed someone else at the top of my Contacts list — someone who would never, ever mind if I called them every five minutes.


    So I keyed in Babs’ number.


    No idea why I didn’t run with Aaron or Aardvark Carpets — that would have made much more sense.

    It’s as if I heard a hint of a whisper, breezing through a gossamer figment of flyaway blonde hair.

    Babs is as fictitious as her accompanying string of random digits, and now, whenever the contents of my pocket collude with chance and animate my smartphone, my muffles greet only an undisturbable abyss .

    Three or four times a year, I call up Babs for an accidental heart-to-heart.

    And three or four times a year, she never calls back.


    But I got to thinking this morning — what if Babs is actually out there?

    This blonde haired girl who would love nothing more to be the recipient of my muffles?

    Perhaps she also has a smartphone.

    Perhaps she also rings out, quite by accident, from her handbag.

    And perhaps, like me, she has a non-amusing amusing friend.

    Might even be this guy’s name is Walter.

    And instead of renaming him Twatface, she keyed in a fictitious guy named Whirl, who she rings from time to time for an accidental heart-to-heart.


    Only he never calls back.


 

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