Monday, May 31, 2010

Ma Bell

I'm one of those people who has the sound of an old fashioned telephone as my ring tone on my cell phone (mobile? smart phone? magic phone?). I knew if I had anything else I'd be one of those people who never notices that their phone is ringing.
Despite having a recognizable tone I still don't always answer my phone when it rings. I don't feel comfortable answering it or even looking to see who it is if I am in the middle of a live conversation. I also won't answer while I'm at work or at the library or if I'm at home and the phone is in my coat pocket in the closet while I'm upstairs or outside.
For the record I am also old and crotchety enough to think it is rude to text message while you are having a live experience with a living breathing human being right in front of you.

For the most part it works out fine. People leave a message and I call them back when I am free. The only problem was that my husband sometimes need to get in touch with me in real time and I wouldn't notice his call until an hour or so later. I remedied this problem by making a special ring tone just for his calls. I used a little techno riff that came with the phone since my husband likes that kind of music and it would remind me of him. It's got a spy-movie-theme-song vibe to it.

The first time it "rang" I was in the grocery store with my daughter. We were in the toothbrush aisle. At first, I thought the sound was coming from the store's piped in music. I realised this wasn't the case when the familiar voice of Jimmy Buffett told me that he was. "wasting away again in Margaritaville". Then I thought it was the toothbrushes, you know the kind that play music while you brush. I finally noticed that it was coming from the shopping cart. I was starting to get a little freaked out because I couldn't see any products in the cart that could possibly be making music. Surely a musical device in the packaging of the frozen peas or the pudding pops wouldn't be able to withstand the extreme temperature and moisture conditions of a supermarket freezer.

I stuck my head all the way in the cart and doing my best not to sound crazy I whispered to my eight-year-old, "Can you hear that music?".
She looked at me with a casual expression and said, "I think that's your phone".

Monday, May 10, 2010

Black is Beautiful

The first drink I ever ordered in a bar was at Durty Nelly's in County Clare, Ireland.

I was eighteen years old and I was traveling with my good friend who was seventeen. We had both just graduated from high school and decided that a trip to Ireland was a great way to celebrate.

Our first hostess on our journey was my third cousin-in-law who lived in a little village in County Clare. After she picked us up at the airport and fed us dinner at her house she encouraged us to walk just up the road to the pub.

Now for those of you who don't speak Irish, "just up the road" means anywhere from one to seven miles. In this case Durty Nelly's was about a three mile walk.

By the time we got there we were pretty thirsty but no less nervous about ordering a drink like a real grown-up. In the U.S. the drinking age is 21 and unless you had a fake id. or a beard (we had neither) you couldn't get served in a bar. This is not to say we had never had an alcoholic beverage before or gotten someone who did have a beard to buy us a drink. We just had never done it ourselves.

We spent the first five minutes standing near the door of the crowded pub trying not to look conspicuous. Picture Daria and Jane Lane go to Ireland. We finally made our way to the bar and the bottle.

Lame, I know.

We went outside and drank our luke-warm beers that tasted like they had been delivered by donkey cart from Germany two years ago. But now we had liquid courage and skunked beer aftertaste, so we went back to the bar and ordered, two pints of Guinness.

It's a good thing we were feeling brave because we had to stand there for about five minutes waiting for our pints. We had our first lesson: a good pour takes time. By the time we left Ireland, two weeks and several pubs later we were experts.

That expertise would have to be suppressed until the day we were old enough to have id. and cash in our pockets. The next trick was to find an Irish pub that served Guinness by the pint.

Nowadays people are discovering Guinness, along with micro-brew stouts and Smithwicks at most places that have more than two taps. Some of us learned early though.