I have been on the receiving end, if you’ll excuse the expression, of a rash of butt-dialings.
You are aware of the term “butt-dialing”, yes? That accidental phone call one gets when someone inadvertently dials your number, usually by way of sitting on their phone?
Incredible design flaw.
I remember my first butt-dial like it was yesterday.
My phone rang. Not my cell phone, which was a device I had initially dismissed as a passing fad, but what we now refer to as the “land line”.
A man was already talking. “… so pretty and all. Why don’t you reach back there, grab another one.”
There was the sound of movement, of a canned beverage being opened, followed by the sound of a woman’s drunken giggling.
I shouted into the phone: “Hello! Hello!”
“God but you look good. Come over here…”
It took a good 15 minutes of hard listening and intermittent screamings of “hello! hello!” before three things happened.
One: I recognized the voice of Duwayne. Duwayne, ex-childhood-trailer-park-neighbor, the man missing his front teeth, the guy who sometimes slept on friends’ couches, sometimes in his car. Why he had my number, I will never know as I’d not seen him since I was 16.
Two: I came to understand that Duwayne and “Pookie” were sitting at a lake in his car, drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and enjoying the honeymoon period of a blossoming and alcohol-fueled relationship. Various items of clothing had been removed. Pookie was, as Duwayne put it, “stacked”.
Three: I hung up.
Funny thing about the land line, though. It wouldn’t hang up. Fifteen minutes later, when I needed to make a call, there was Duwayne and his paramour. From the sounds of it, he was doing a series of quick, heavy-lifting maneuvers.
That’s what I told myself, anyway.
I hung up again.
And for the rest of the night until I finally got in my car to go to visit the person I wanted to call, I picked up my phone to the sound of grunting, cans opening, and laughter.
I did not receive another butt-dialing for 10 years. And then…
My phone rang at work.
“Acme Napkins and Grommets. Pearl speaking.”
Nothing but the sound of country-western music playing. And then a woman’s voice: “Should we hit a drive-through? I’m hungry.”
I knew immediately. It was happening again.
A different woman’s voice: “Oh, I don’t know. What’re you thinking?”
And so I listened, for almost 5 minutes, interjecting a “hello! hello!” here and there, just to give them a fighting chance at not being caught saying anything they would regret later.
And unfortunately, they didn’t. For the most part, eavesdropping is quite dull; and so while I did some data entry and they discussed the merits of Burger King versus McDonald’s and sang along with songs I’d never heard before, it was re-affirmed for me how monotonous much of life can be.
I hung up.
The last event occurred just a couple weeks ago.
This time it was my 25-year-old son and a group of his friends, heading north for the weekend.
It was clear, from the shouting and laughter in his vehicle, that it had happened again.
And this time, I hung up immediately.
Because if there’s one thing that being butt-dialed has taught me, it's that, for the most part, if we’re not part of the conversation, we’re better off not knowing what was said.