Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Lamenting the loss of land lines


It's almost time for school to begin again. Son Geo is moving out of the dorms and into a house in Madison with 7 or 8 other guys. The house also happens to be right across the street from Camp Randall.

Which is bliss for him but not so much for me. I remember those houses and what went on in them. It was all a lot of fun but not what a mother has in mind for her kids most of the time.

A couple weeks ago I suggested that we have a party and invite all the roomies and parents for a chance to get to know each other. My son is nothing if not diplomatic, so he said, "Oh, gee, Ma, great idea. That would really be fun. But most of them live in Minnesota or something."

Odder woids, it ain't gonna happen.

Now I'm about to undertake a tutorial in how to deal with the utilities. That's a new experience for all the kids, and one they haven't thought about yet. But one utility they won't have to deal with as a household is The Phone Company.

Most of my higher math in college was dissecting the phone bill with my roommates, figuring out who owed what in long distance charges. And those long distance calls were expensive, so we incurred them parsimoniously--after 7 on weekends, mainly, and only once a week.

Everyone has his own cell phone now. That means I won't get a chance to know Geo's roommates through those chance conversations you have with your kid's friends when they aren't home.

Too bad. I got to know roomie Marge's dad's sense of humor that way, and roomie Vicki's mom's gentle intelligence. Over the years, subtle and important information got transferred that way, and a few important rescue trips involving groceries or doctor visits ensued as a result.

I vaguely remember party lines. In the old days, a number of people shared a telephone line, and if you were sneaky you could pick up the phone and listen in on their conversations, which was great fun for the snoopy among us. Of course, you also had to wait until they were finished talking to make your own call. Imagine anyone being willing to share or wait now.

I no longer have a taste for overhearing the intimate details of the lives of strangers  as we now do when they talk in grocery stores, restaurants, even church. But I miss getting to know the distant friends and relatives of  those who live with the ones I love.

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