The Passable Phone

So I haven’t written in a while, because I have been preparing a manuscript for the Sewanee Writer’s Conference in Tennessee, which I am attending this summer, excitedly.  More than excitedly!  I am so, so, so (etc.) looking forward to it.  But it meant that this week, I transcribed 22,000 words from typewriter written pages to my computer.  My hands actually got sore.  And there was No Blogging.

But then, on my way to the post office to mail the thing off, I stopped for some groceries at Madison Market, and discovered that Reality is a Passable Phone, and I had to tell you all about it.  I’ll explain.  I was in the bulk section, buying bulk fig bars, which aren’t as good as packaged ones but fill some psychological food niche for me, when anyhow, I heard a woman talking by the bins of beans.  On the phone to her boyfriend, asking what kind of beans he wanted, I figured.  I looked for a twistie tie, she kept on talking.  She was using the phrase, “Red hot tips,” a lot.  Or was it “Red hot tits?”  She was talking about the Midwest and her parents and how she was hoping her dad was going to die so she could get all his money.  It was getting to be a pretty wild conversation, but hell, it is Madison Market — I’ve had conversations in the checkout line there about underarm hair.  It’s part of why I shop there: it’s human.  Anyways, people are always saying outrageous things for effect, especially when they’re on the phone somewhere public.  I picked up my basket and walked past her, and then I realized she was not wearing a headset.

It made me start thinking — why did the fact she was not on the phone change everything about the situation to me?  Either way, she was still clearly engaged in a conversation with someone who was not there.  Her being able to hear them because a satellite in outer space was beaming their words to her is really no more outlandish than her being able to hear them because they just in some way are in her head.

The only difference is that she conceivably could have passed the phone to me, and I could have heard the voice too.  And that, my friends, is the theory of the Passable Phone. Reality is a mutually agreed on construction and there is one of its walls.

Which brings me to banana phones.  Say someone, maybe my old housemate Liz, picks up an object, say a banana, has a telephone conversation into it, and passes it to you.  Probably, unless you’re shy or really cranky, you’ll take it and say “Hello?” And I think we do this with reality too — that everyone will pretend something is true, even when everyone knows it isn’t.

But enough bulk philosophy, invisible friends.


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