An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

An ode to Linda

So my mom calls yesterday, and immediately I set a timer to see if maybe this time we can set a record. Because my mother does not like to talk on the phone, and on average has said goodbye within twenty seconds. That is not an exaggeration. Twenty seconds. A phone call with my mother sounds like the guy who is auctioning off a cow, except that guy is coherent and my mother? A bit more like someone is beating a cat with a banjo.

I say that with all the love in my heart, Mom. You know how much I love banjos.

Like, I’ll talk to my brother Ranger, and he’ll mention that he had a phone call with my mom, and when I ask him how long he’ll go, A MINUTE FORTY-FIVE, BITCHES!

Jon doesn’t understand why my mom cannot stay on the phone, thinks that she has some sort of emotional aversion to the whole situation, and many times will say that conversations with her on the phone sound exactly like this: if I don’t hang up now someone might die, goodbye.

Remember that movie about the bus that had to keep moving or it would explode? Twist that around and turn it on its head and there you have my mom’s relationship to the telephone. The longer she talks, the more likely the world will end. I think I just armchair diagnosed her with something and saved her a ten dollar copay. THAT’S BETTER THAN A COUPON FOR CONDENSED MILK, MOM.

I tease her because I love her, she knows that, although I do expect a phone call in about ten minutes, one that lasts about fourteen seconds wherein I am labeled a turd.

Anyway, she calls to tell me that she has a story she thinks I will totally identify with, because she and I are the same person, and oops, I forgot to tell you. I have the exact same relationship with the phone. Sort of. I mean, I can have long conversations, but usually I’m all about WHAT? WHAT DO YOU WANT? SERIOUSLY? GET TO THE POINT, I HAVE MUCH PAJAMA-WEARING IN-THE-BED BLOGGING TO DO.

So it turns out that she and my stepfather are participating in a program at church where they are reading ten pages a day out of The Book of Mormon, and since my mother is The Most Competitive Person On The Planet, she is making sure that she is ahead of my stepfather. Meaning, she secretly snuck into his copy of the book to see how far along he was, and when she saw that he was within two pages of where she was, she ran right to her copy and read thirty more pages. And she was all, HA! THIRTY PAGES AHEAD! See if you can catch up to that, SLOW READER.

Now, there are too many layers of ridiculousness to this that I can’t even count that high, starting with Mom, there is no prize at the end of this contest. You know that, right? And here you are cheating which is totally against the Word of Wisdom, or isn’t it one of the ten commandments? WHATEVER. It’s a sin no matter how you look at it MINUS A HUNDRED POINTS FOR YOU.

Except — and this is the reason the word except was invented — I totally wanted to high five her right there, right as we passed the one minute fifty-two second mark of our conversation. SUCK IT, RANGER.

Because sometimes when Jon and I are working out on treadmills next to each other at the gym and I look over and see that he is burning more calories than I am? I will increase the incline by ten and up the speed to HEART ATTACK just so that when we’re done my calorie count is at least one point higher than his. Otherwise I can’t go on living.

So you see? These neuroses. NOT MY FAULT.

  • Trish

    So…um…..what speed do you usually go on the treadmill? *sniff*

    I LOATHE the phone. I’m a rabid texter and emailer. I can’t stand talking to people on the phone. I can talk in person until I’m blue in the face. Phone, forget it.

  • Jacquie

    I loathe talking on the phone, but I’ll e-mail, text, IM – in other words – WRITE your ear off. I’ve had my smart phone for a week and when it rang today during my staff meeting I scowled at everyone else because I didn’t recognize it as mine. I think I’ve made a total of 3 calls, but I’ve practically worn out the keyboard buttons already.

  • cactuswren

    Oh yay, I thought it was just me and I was some kind of evil, heartless misanthrope! I L-O-A-T-H-E the phone…my mom claims to hate the phone, but is one of those annoying types who takes five minutes to have the conversation and twelve hours to say goodbye because she keeps thinking of one more thing to tell me…grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

    Fortunately, I’ve made my aversion very well known, so almost nobody else ever calls me. Please write!

  • barbara

    I WISH my mother only spent a few minutes on the phone. She’ll go on for an hour about something I could have said in 30 seconds!


    Whew. That was like riding the Loop de Loop. Can Bossy go again?

  • Sandra in BC

    Hey, I used a coupon to buy condensed milk today!

  • WanderingOne

    You know, I’ve come to accept that, yes, we do turn into our parents. As I watch myself slowly evolve into my mother, I am more and more amused by how much other people turn into THEIR parents, too. So thank you. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one repeating this deadly pattern. 🙂

  • lisdom

    Can you please put her on speakerphone sometime and get a recording so we can all hear? Sorry Heather’s mom, but I’ve got to hear this auctioneer-esque phone call.

  • TCLover

    I’m so glad to hear that I’m not alone in my phone aversion. What I wonder is how Linda became the #1 Avon sales rep if she hates talking on the phone?? Isn’t the phone a critical element of direct sales? Or maybe that’s her secret – she gets to the point and people like that in a sales rep.

  • Jenna Jean

    “How’s it going? Yup. Yup. Yup. Yup. Ok bye.”

    That’s exactly what every call sounds like to me, should not be longer than 15 seconds.

    Also, why call when you can text?

    I (secretly love) hate working out at the gym with my lover, it turns into who can do more crunches without breaking a rib.
    Jenna Jean

  • GrandRGrand

    Long phone conversations make me crazy. Hanging from my desk, staring aimlessly at the clock, wiping the sweat that has formed between my ear and the phone for the tenth time while holding the receiver in my numb lifeless fingers, so that I can listen to yet ANOTHER analogy of the SAME story that began over an HOUR ago…. AN HOUR!

    What I wouldn’t give for a phone call that lasted under two minutes! Can you just have your mom call me so I can see what that feels like? 😉

  • Taunt

    I hate phones. All of them. Especially at the office.

  • mrs.notouching

    I’ve been practically crippled by trying to run faster than the guy next to me at the gym. That’s definitely genetic.

  • KatR

    My grandmother is the same way about the phone, but that’s because I call LONG DISTANCE (gasp!), and there is no explaining to a woman who lived through the Depression about unlimited nights and weekends.

  • megnstuff

    THIS is why I read your blog. Posts like these. You can make a story – or in this case, a blog post- out the most mundane, every day thing. You make it fun to read about a short conversation with your mom about the Book of Mormon. Fantastic. You have talent, a real gift. Thank you for making me smile and laugh. Please, keep ’em coming!

  • Mama M.

    Parents…they’re good to blame stuff on!

  • kyzmet

    Ranger?? Really? How did you end up with something as normal as Heather? Does he get mistaken for an actually Ranger when he signs his name? Hilarious.

  • dialing footnoterphone

    That’s funny, I just used a coupon at HEB for condensed milk. Buy 1 can of pumpkin pie filling, get a can of condensed milk free. Score.

  • proud momma of one

    I HATE HATE HATE talking on the phone with such a passion. I’ve been wearing the same contact lenses for the past 2 months simply because I don’t want to call my Dr to order the new prescription. I also never call people back and there is always SOMEONE who is mad at me over that. I’m horrible. I’m a horrible, rotten person. But at least I’m not alone!!

  • salsamite

    Man, I WISH my mum was more like yours! My mum rings me up to talk about nothing. Here is an example:

    S: hello?
    M: hello.
    S: Oh hi.
    M: Where are you? (it’s never HOW are you, but WHERE are you)
    S: I’m at work.
    M: Oh. *sigh* What are you doing?
    S: Um, I’m working…
    M: Oh, okay. (pause) Do you usually work today?
    S: Yes, I work every Wednesday.
    M: Oh, okay. *pause* I thought you worked from home on Wednesdays?
    S: Nope, not Wednesdays. I’m in the office on Wednesdays.
    M: Oh, okay. *sigh* So… What are you up to on the weekend?

    And IT GOES ON…
    AND ON….
    AND ON!

    Heather, I never want to hear you complain about this whole “oh, poor me, my mum only talks for a minute”

    PS. Sorry, I think you’re great, really. 😀

  • lexie1211

    Wait, stop! You have a brother named “Ranger”? Is that his given name? It HAS to be, you are from Tennessee!! Ha! I can say that, I live in this God-forsaken place. And only here would I know 2 other people named Ranger. Never a dull moment here in the land of the Bartlett Panthers!

  • former-miss-know-it-all

    Oh Heather..I wish that I had the brain cells right now to say something witty, but I just hand washed dishes due to a broken dishwasher, and now I am brain-dead. This post just made my almost-over day. Thank you girl!

  • dominiquewynand

    Hey, aside from understanding your painful need to compete NO MATTER WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES OR HOW OBSCENELY YOU MAY BE BEHAVING. I am also on that diet you speak of under the “daily photo.” dominquewynand/

  • apostate

    Words… words… words…
    Must… keep… reading… for… extra… credit… for… seminary. Must… not… fall… asleep. (eyes roll to the back of head)

    And it came to pass that [apostate] found these words to be exceedingly boring.

    I didn’t really completely comprehend what the BOM was about until I became an apostate. And then I was like WTF, dude! No wonder Mitt Romney got so much crap.

    My mom can talk on the phone but at any given moment, if she decides the conversation is over, it’s OVER. It’s like igottagobye. One sylable.

    This used to take my husband by surprise but now he knows that if I’m engrossed in conversation and then hanging up two seconds later, I must have been talking to my mom.

  • KatieC

    Completely off topic,
    but I wanted to say that our darling 15 month old black labrador, jessie got drowned in the park on sunday

    We are beyond heartbroken

  • Googooboyy

    What is it with parents that don’t say goodbye when they hang up? Their last words on the phone are usualy , ahem, uhum, oh i see, or okay.

    So congrats in beating your brother to the record. Deserving.

  • Bush Babe

    To KatieC – so sorry for your loss. What a tragedy.

    To Dooce – Heather, wanted to say how wonderful your Coco calendar is … your shots are always amazing and fabulously left of centre. I have attempted my own calendar this year – more work than I realised but so much fun. So if you’d like a year full of Bush images (that are ALL G-rated) visit me soon!!

    But please, please don’t think I am trying to compete. I wouldn’t, I couldn’t, I won’t.

  • shue

    Could it be her worrying about phone bills? A long time ago, phonecalls were expensive. My mum’s like that too — cant hold a phone call for too long. She doesnt even say “bye” before hanging up… just get the info you need (are you coming home for dinner?), and quickly hang up!

  • shue

    Could it be her worrying about phone bills? A long time ago, phonecalls were expensive. My mum’s like that too — cant hold a phone call for too long. She doesnt even say “bye” before hanging up… just get the info you need (are you coming home for dinner?), and quickly hang up!

  • louralann

    This makes me laugh on so many levels.

    My dad has tried that “competition” for years! He reads the Book of Mormon whenever he sits down for breakfast, lunch and dinner…and then relays how much he read, how far along he is and of course..

    “You know I bet if you did the same thing, you’d be farther along in it then I am”.

    What he doesn’t get is…I don’t sit down to eat! Lol, most days I’m doing good if I remember to eat anything at all. So there my poor Book of Mormon sits, languishing at the table, until I finally slow down enough to sit and eat and read…I may be dead by the time that happens.

    Oh and the phone convo thing..yeah he is the worst person for staying on and on and on. Even when you tell him a million times. It’s to the point where I almost cut him off and yet he still manages another sentence..or two or ten. And it’s usually about cars or motorbikes or trannies…things I reply uh huh to while reading or playing on the computer, I’m such a bad daughter at times lol

    Even so, I am grateful he is around to talk to. When I lose him there will be a huge void in my life.

  • Heidi Malott

    I think I would prefer short on the phone as apposed to very LONG-cant-get-off-the-phone-now repeating-and saying-goodbye-all-to-start-over-again-kill-me-now phone calls.

  • Heidi Malott


  • Bluestalking

    I have you BOTH beat. I don’t even answer the phone. That’s what answering machines are for. Besides, everyone knows phones suck out your souls through your ears.

    And my mother? I don’t speak to her anymore, but she used to talk so much I’d put the phone down, go to work, come back, make dinner, do the dishes, watch an hour of TV, then pick the phone up again, and she’d have been talking away the whole time.

    You can guess why I’m not a fan of the phone…

  • aprilkelm

    My mom always ends conversations on the phone by angrily saying, “Well, I gotta go.” Then you say bye and she hangs up. Geez, mom, some mothers say I love you at least.

    Recently we were talking about this and one of my brothers (there are 5) said she didn’t do this to him. Ever. She said since he never calls, she has to be nice to him when he does. Then she turns to me and says, “YOU call EVERY DAY!”

    So now we know who the favorite is.

  • Boxcar

    Damn. I wish my parents were like that with the phone. Both of them will sit on the phone for hours. My dad once watched an entire Packers game while on the phone with his buddy. I had to go in the other room for all the yelling.

    Somehow, even with parents who actually love talking on the phone, I despise it. I am far more like your mother in that I cannot stand being on the phone. I don’t like calling people, I don’t like answering when people call. Unless its my wife calling, I will almost always let it go to VM and only call back if it is absolutely necessary.

    It’s not so much a phobia. I just have an aversion to it. Not unlike the aversion I have to cucumbers or hobos.

  • EliBailey

    I also hate talking on the phone; glad to know I’m not the only one. Part of it is that I don’t process things auditorily very well, and if I can’t see a person’s face when I’m talking to them I get all nervous and can’t hear and then things just don’t register. So if I call someone for information and don’t write it down I forget everything as soon as I hang up. I also have a phobia about talking to people with masks or dark sunglasses on; it seriously freaks me out if I can’t see a person’s eyes.

  • Music for Mother and Child

    As always a pleasure to visit your blog, Heather.

  • Jayceekay

    Okay this isn’t about your mom story, but the baby pic had closed comments, sooo….. I just HAD to say that Marlo is one damn cute baby. Those eyes!!!!

  • ShanLeAnn

    I have the exact opposite problem with my mother and the phone.

    My mom could keep me on the phone all the…even when there’s nothing to talk about.

    At the end of every conversation I ask, “any more words?” and when she says no, we can get off the phone.
    She almost always calls me back because she remembered something. She does this because she knows it drives me crazy and she thinks it’s absolutely hilarious.

  • poptart66

    Phones are freaky, but I totally get you on the look over at my partners calories burned tally and ramp it up!!

  • JLyn

    I mean this in the nicest way ever, but I kind of think that Katey looks like the girl version of Adam Lambert from American Idol. And he’s kind of hot! I think Katey is beautiful. I hope Katey or anyone else doesn’t find this offensive.

  • tinker8377

    Oh my goodness. I had to laugh about your workout paragraph. When my husband and I would go to the gym, we would both be on the elliptical machines next to one another. I would cover my workout info and then look over at his and then increase my workout so it would get harder, just so that when we were done, I could remove the towel and see that I did a harder workout than him. hehe.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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