The point at which all phone conversations resemble a drop in cell phone coverage

This morning I called my sister to see if she had received a frantic call from our father warning us that the taxes we pay on our various telephone and cable bills would usher us into an early grave (my answer to him, “If I die early it won’t matter because while I was alive I could record four different television shows at once while you in your extended life could only record one.”) She got a different version of the same lecture. Turns out my father is just having a panic attack at the thought of moving from Tennessee to Utah where by law he cannot consolidate his utility bills. This means TAXES ON EVERY BILL, think of all those extra pennies that won’t be buried with him.

The bright side, Dad, is that your coffin, it will be lighter!

The rest of the conversation went like this:

“Hold on a second, STOP POKING HIM IN THE EYE.”

“Wait a minute, Leta just stuck a raisin up her nose. Here, no wait, STOP. There. I got it. What were you saying?”

“Just that, oh hold on, NOAH. NOAH! NO-AH! STOP LICKING BO.”

“He’s licking Bo?”

“He’s got Bo in a head-lock and he’s licking his nose.”

“Bo is licking Noah’s nose?”

“No, Noah… NOAH! I SAID STOP.”

Just then I hear a scuffle and a little voice on the other end says, “Can I talk to her?”

“Noah wants to talk to you.”


“Hi. I got Bo’s string.”

“Are you licking Bo?”

“I’m enough years to pump.”


“I pump now.”

At this point I’m just confused because I’m half-listening, half-trying to prevent Leta from sticking her head into Chuck’s water bowl, and all I can think is that my sister has one of her four-year-old twins pumping her gas. I can just imagine her pulling up to a Shell station and yelling at the back seat, “Get out and pump me some gas, boy.”

My sister takes back the phone and says, “He’s old enough now that he can pump his legs on the swing and I no longer have to push him.”

“Oh, I have to admit, I thought maybe you were making him pump your gas. And now that I just let that come out of my mouth it doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”

“He’s licking the dog, Heather. I’m not letting him near gas until he’s paying for his own insurance.”