Sunday, June 22, 2014

In Memoriam, Telephone Version

          K's older brother, C, is a man of sentiment who has put no little effort into cultivating an irascible persona in order to prevent anyone from knowing what a softy he is. He's a gooey caramel center, if you will, wrapped in 40-grit sandpaper.*

          C still misses his parents, who died several years ago. So much so, that he has turned every mundane household item that he and his wife took when K and his brothers cleaned out their parents' house into a memorial. There are memorial dishes, memorial furniture, memorial cocktail glasses, and so on. None of these items are in any way rare or valuable, but for C, they resonate with memories of his parents.

          Perhaps the oddest memorial item C and his long-suffering wife have, though, is the Memorial Telephone Number.

          C transferred his parents' old land-line phone number into his name.

          This is not what I would call completely sensible behavior, frankly. Both my brother- and sister-in-law have cell phones with non-memorial numbers, which are their primary contact phones. Neither of them use the land line that carries the Memorial Telephone Number. No one places calls from the Memorial Telephone Number; no one answers the calls that come to the Memorial Telephone Number. A Memorial Answering Machine answers the Memorial Telephone when a robo-caller punches the sacred digits of the Memorial Telephone Number.

Hello? Is anybody there?

          There is a certain amount existential absurdity in a phone that no human answers taking calls that no human generates, and I pointed this out to my brother-in-law. No no, he told me; that is its exact function.

          It seems that my mother-in-law always told her children that if there were an afterlife, she would find some way to let them know. C is just making it easy for her to get in touch. She has only to dial her very own phone number and leave a message for him.

Assuming, of course, that the afterlife is provided with telephones.

*He also dislikes metaphor, so naturally I worked rather hard to build one for him so he will know I care enough to go out of my way to irritate him.

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