"I gotta answer the phone. Hold that thought." I didn't hear the phone. Then again, with my weird deafness, I heard something, yet didn't know it was the phone. The story of my life. He got up and went into the kitchen.
Moments later, he returned. "Shit. Another telemarketer. I don't know what to do - I put my phone number on the no call list, but they still call."
"Are you soliciting advice from me?"
"Yes. What do you do?"
"Well, it's simple, really. Considering I can barely hear anything on the phone. I tell them I'm almost totally deaf and tell them to repeat everything they say slowly or clearly. They usually hang up with my second, 'What?'"
Despite those special government agency numbers where you add your phone number to a no call list, the telemarketers are always a step ahead. They got clever calling with automated questions. Or hang up so you feel compelled to call back. Let's not forget the spate of telemarketing text messages. Still, I rarely receive those phone calls anymore because my rare deafness has that one redeeming benefit.
We resumed our conversation. I can converse face to face and hear some of what he says in a quiet room. Any background sounds, though, obliterate his words and I resort to lip reading. Which doesn't really help. Once again, the phone rang and he got up to go into the kitchen.
This time, upon his return, he had a huge smile. "Worked like a charm!"
"Do you want to hear how I got telemarketers to stop phoning my mother way back when?"
"Sure. But hold that thought." He got up and went into the kitchen to set up a pot of coffee. Now, this is a friend. He knows my stories are usually lengthy with tangential side plots where we get so involved in other topics it takes a good hour to get back to the initial story.
Meanwhile, I checked out my email on my iPhone and lo and behold, in those five minutes I got at least 27 spam emails, the latest marketing strategy. There are days when my spam exceeds my normal email. That's why I went to paperless billing. I want to get at least something of substance in my email bin.
Finally, he emerged with two large cups of coffee. After he sat down, I prefaced, "Don't worry. This story's rather short and only merits one cup of coffee."
My mother made a monumental decision one day. She decided to cut down the trees on one side of the house. They were stunted pines. Stunted in that they only grew 20' high. They were mangy looking trees. It might've been something her new neighbor said which had an impact on her monumental decision.
"Judy, cut those fucking things down. They look like shit."
At any rate, she needed my help as her vision was going. That was a huge leap of trust for I'm a klutz, unlike my mother. She was a wiz with tools. When I was a kid, she wanted a bar patterned after a design called The John J Kennedy Bar. It even had an American eagle bolted on the front, something my father liked. He was a great enthusiast and patriot where he adorned the walls of the house with American eagles. Those clashed with my mother's paint-by-numbers oils of famous nudes throughout the centuries. Mom researched books about how to build things. Then, she went to the department store and measured the damn bar. She drew diagrams galore and even made a doll-sized edition for proportion.
One weekend, she collared my father and together they purchased the wood, drill, lathe, rotary saw, nails, varnish and laquer. They hauled everything into the garage. That's when Mom started her project.
Every night for a month after us children were told to go to bed, she worked on her bar. We couldn't sleep due to the whining sound of the rotary saw as well as her cursing. But, she created her mesterpiece.
It was truly magnificent. Inside, it remained sticky, but it looked terrific. The only drawback was it whetted her appetite. Before we knew it, she singlehandedly put up wood paneling in every room, even the bathrooms. When she tired of that, she built a hallway surrounding the front door without a single nail! Forty years later, I almost killed myself removing those walls.
The woman was a genius in construction. She spent a week building a 100' dock in an "L" shape, along with a floating raft with a diving board. Afterwards, she constructed a 10' high windmill that functioned. When a tree fell on the house, something which occurs with regularity, she planned a new kitchen. That's when Dad put his foot down.
"Enough. Get a contractor. You don't know enough about wiring and plumbing."
That's all he needed. Dad couldn't even replace a lightbulb. At this point, he felt emasculated. His wife wielded a mean hammer. She was adept in jigsaws, chainsaws, drills and bolts. The only help I could contribute was carrying all that shit. And putting in and taking out the dock and raft.
By the time I was a teen-ager, my sister and I celebrated the onset of every summer by wearing the skimpiest bikinis, slathering on a thick layer of suntan oil in preparation for putting in the dock. For my parents insisted we'd get terrific tans from that brutal work. In retrospect, we had killer bodies although we thought we were fat. Yes, youth is wasted on the young.
In the hot sun, we carried the 8' dock portions into the lake and sledgehammered iron poles for each section. While we carried, hammered and bolted, hundreds of boats full of men piled up behind us for this was the event that kicked off the summer season: the Stone girls were putting in the dock!
It became tradition and continued until I turned 40. "Dad, I'm glad I can still wear a bikini, but my back can't take it no more." Not one person in over the 30 years my sister and I killed ourselves ever offered to help. They were too busy oogling over our bodies.
I also put my foot down about turning the water on and off for the seasonal house. "Dad, my back is bad."
"Well, you can help your mother chainsaw the dead limbs from the trees. That doesn't require lifting or bending."
That's how I became an expert chainsawer. I found it addicting. There's nothing like wielding a weapon and a sense of satisfaction when people ran away in horror. Not to mention cutting down the tree branches.
As a result, when my mother asked me to help her out in chainsawing a few trees, I visited in a flash.
Before we got down to business, we had lunch. Food is a Stone family tradition. My childhood centered around meals. The planning, the execution, the actual dining and finally, the wash-up. Even though my father passed away and my siblings lived in other states, I still lived close enough to commute on a weekend for one of mom's meals.
The phone rang every two seconds during our lunch. They were telemarketers.
I said. "How long has this been going on?"
"For months," she responded. "But now they call on weekends."
After I washed up the dishes, I joined my mother in the garage. We took out the chainsaw and filled it with gas. I did a dry run to make sure the chainsaw worked. Then, my mother said, "Wait one moment. Let me take out the portable phone. Just in case."
When she returned, I cut down one tree. The phone rang. "Don't answer it, Mom."
She did. It was a telemarketer. I grabbed the phone and hung up. "Listen, I'll handle those calls, Mom," and slid the phone in my pocket.
After I dragged the tree down what constituted our front lawn to the curb for the garbage men, I walked back to the chainsaw. I picked it up and turned it on, focusing on the next tree.
Suddenly the phone rang and an idea came to mind.
I turned off the chainsaw and handed it to my mother. "Mom - when I put my thumb up in the air, you turn the chainsaw on. Okay?"
Bewildered, she stared at me, but nodded.
I answered the phone. It was a telemarketer. "Hi. This is Tim and I'd love to talk to you about - "
I gave Mom the thumbs up. At the same time, I yelled into the phone, "Mom, put down the chainsaw!"
The guy on the other line continued his dialogue. I yelled again, "Mom, please put down the chainsaw!" while walking closer to her so that he could hear the chainsaw.
He still talked. Finally, I shrieked, "OH MY GOD! MOM!!!" while putting the phone right next to the whirring tool.
Then I hung up.
Since then, she never received another telemarketing call.
I only advise that method under the supervision of adults.
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