The Party-Line Pooper
By Dee Yoder
My sister, Audrey, is tapping her foot as she hovers like a vulture over the phone.
“That Mrs. Humphrey is always hogging the line. What could a woman that old have to talk about anyway? She spends hours on end gossiping her head off,” she grumbles.
“Maybe her sister is sick, Boogerhead,” I say with a “tsk.” She stops tapping long enough to stare me down.
Our eyes lock stubbornly until she breaks the tension by suddenly smacking me on the head with her brush. I leap on her with a heathen yell, and we crash to the floor as she holds me down with one strong arm while she wiggles her other arm’s fingers under my nose.
“Ooooo…burn…burn… you weakling, you!” she taunts.
I thrash around, helpless against her power, until she hears the phone ringing. “Allllll riiiiight!” she shouts, dropping my head like a hot potato. I feel and hear it bounce against the floor. Owie.
I watch her face as she chats with her boyfriend. Gag. Her eyes look sparkly like they do when she gets the flu, and she draws out her vowel sounds like some kind of idiot.
“Ohhh, Rooogerrr…you’re sooooo fuuuunneeee. You just make my daaay, Sweetie.”
Eww. I’m gonna heave my dinner. I’m amazed that she can sound so sweet, when just a minute ago she was beating my brains out. I sit up and the movement catches her attention. She frowns and starts shooing me away from her. I pretend I don’t know what she means. “What?” I mouth silently, my eyebrows raised innocently.
She purses her lips and then mouths back, “Get. Out.” She points her bony finger at the door in emphasis. I smile. “Whaaaaattttt?” I mouth again slowly. “I can’t hear you…”
She rushes at me; shoving and pushing me out of the room, the whole time talking her gooey-icky love-speak to Rogggeeerrrr. I let her get rid of me, but with one last turn of my head, I stick out my tongue, waggling it aggressively for good measure. Slam! The door nearly takes my tongue off.
I saunter down the hall and peek in at Mom and her friend, Mary. Mary swirls a delicate pinky in the air at me in greeting. I pinky-wave back as they go right on yakking. I shake my head; those two are gossip machines.
Just as I start to head out the front door, I spy the phone in the living room and a wicked fun idea pops into my head. I sneak to the phone and lift the receiver slowly…softly. I put it to my ear in time to hear Roger let loose with a sloppy swack. I gag mutely. For effect, I screw up my face and hold my nose with the pointer finger and thumb of my left hand.
“Hello? Hello? This is Mrs. Humphrey and I need this phone! Do you hear me? It’s an emergency!” I mimic.
“Wha-? Mrs. Humphrey?! You just had the line for an hour! I’m talking to my boyfriend-“
“Boyfriend? Who is this? Is this that little Franklin girl? You’re too young for a boyfriend, and, besides, you have that disease that spreads when you kiss!”
I stifle a giggle when I heard Roger gasp.
“Disease?! Why…that’s just a downright fib! Roger! Roger! I tell you she’s fibbing! Roger…Rooogggerrrr??” Click.
About this time, the door to our bedroom opens, and Audrey comes down the hall, dragging the phone line behind her. Her face is beet-red and her mouth is open wide in preparation of a wail. Her eyes widen when she spies me dropping the receiver on the table; I sprint for the door.
“You wretch!” she screeches. A flip-flop sails past my head as I jump off the porch and run for the hills. “Don’t you EVER come back, you Pest-of-the-World Little Sis!”
I laugh all the way to the curb where my best bud, Jeffery, is waiting. He smiles as I approach. Suddenly, he jumps up and rushes to meet me. Before I can stop him, he plants the wettest, ickiest kiss ever right on my lips! I’m stunned and then I notice Mrs. Humphrey standing in her garden, her mouth open in shock. She drops her rose pruners, stares at us for a second, and hurriedly shuffles to her house.
“What’d you do that for?” I yell at Jeffery.
Suddenly, the phone starts ringing inside my house. “I’ll get it” Audrey calls.
“Oh nooooo,” I moan.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7, The Holy Bible, NIV
Hee, hee... I hope this isn't even a hint of a memoir! *smile*
ROFL--I loooooove your stories!! Your voice is absolutely wonderful and suits these stories so well!!
Dee, this is amazingly life-like. And what a riot!! I remember party lines and yakking neighbors. I had so much fun reading this. Thanks for posting!
Dee, this is soooo cuuute! Loved it! I (sigh) am quite old enough to remember party lines. Can't imagine anyone putting up with such a thing in this day and age. Do they still exist?
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