Ring me up! Before you go, go!
July 12, 2009

The thing about living in a household with two sisters young enough to fight over Barbie dolls is that, apart from having to surrender the remote to them and consequently sacrificing the TV to the Disney Channel 24/7, you're committed to spending half of your time at home, as their phone operator.

A large portion of my childhood was spent in the early 90s where cellular phones, were just as alien as cassette tapes today. Thus outside of school, the only mode of communication that I had with my friends was the home phone. And since the phone was shared by the whole family, it was only suiting that my usage of the phone was limited to discussing about school e.g. homework, timetable, schedule and occasionally, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Today, however, despite the advancement of cellular technology which has allowed children as young as 3 to own personal cellphones (my sisters included), our home phone remains as hot as ever between the two girls. Every time it rings, they race their way to the phone as if it's the Jonas Brothers on the line. Which may be quite close at times, to their despair though... when it's actually the Jega Brothers, our friendly neighborhood security guards. Never fails to crack me up.

As painful as they can be, the girls do strictly adhere to our parents' monthly cellphone allowance for them. A little too strict perhaps now that they've valued their cellphone minutes to be only second to the value of our house. Thus, their utilization pattern has been cellphone = SMS and home phone = calls. A rather smart approach if you ask me; with some room for improvement though. Especially when they are still sending short messages like "k", "totally!" and ":-)".

I've learned to ignore the phone when it rings. For as I mentioned, we already have two future national sprinters dashing their way to answer it. Unfortunately, the phone is located right beside where I spend the bulk of my time at home: on the couch, in front of the TV, when it's not airing the Disney Channel. So whenever it rings in the middle of a catfight between the ladies of Desperate Housewives -- to which I usually give my utmost attention to -- I'm left with no choice but to pick it up.

With 95% of the calls coming from either their school friends or cousins, picking up the phone would also mean enduring minor hearing damage as more often than not, girls their age collectively possess a vocal pitch worthy of fronting a mid-80s rock band. And in the instance of answering the call when they aren't at home, I'm usually led to having a rather lengthy phone conversation of my own...

"Hello, may I speak to Sarah?"
"She's not around."
"Where did she go?"

"Out with her mom."
"When will she be back?"

"In a bit."
"How long has she been gone?"
"About an hour."
"Who are you?"
"Her brother."
"What are you up to?"
"Nothing. Just hanging. Watching some TV."
"E! True Hollywood Story?"
"Yeah. No hang on, how do you know?"
"Ha ha... I know you. You're the 'loser brother'."
"Screw you."
"Mooooom... Sarah's brother is telling me to scr..."
"Toot. Toot. Toot. Toot."

Alas, it's hard to ignore the adorable sights of them talking on the phone sharing stories and laughing out loud though I, may be the subject of their mockery. The little girls who used to just pick up the phone, press some random numbers and pretend to be talking to someone have all grown up now. From talking to a dial tone, they're now talking to their peers with topics ranging from math problems to Hannah Montana.

I guess it's only to be embraced; that the girls are still using the home phone. For time flies. And I don't think it would be long before they could afford to fully use their own cellphones. Which would then, leave the home phone in seclusion, not ringing anymore and collecting dust before we actually decide to just terminate the line. A taste perhaps, of the changes to come.

Maybe I'll just savor the rings while it's still around. Not when I'm in the middle of E! True Hollywood Story though.


serih. u r a genius.
lawak dol.

great piece! :)

dude, you should make all these entries into a buku lah. serious.

your english is too good, i had to use a dictionary! you're my hero!

ko tak screen kalau laki call ke?

I miss those cassette tape.. haha..

Good read btw..

Tallan Nobel Latz, bet u already heard bout him...ur band could hire him :D

I grew up with two brothers...their conversations on the house phone were mostly reduced to grunts or sudden boisterous laughs.

Mine always stretches for hours, over the most random things. We can talk and talk and talk.

Once, time nak SPM....my then-forbidden boyfriend called and Dad picked up. He terus cut off the line and I was phone-less till the exams were over.


Barua kutuk aku selalu tgk E channel .. ko pon dlm diam terpinge2 gak usya awek2 kat E Channel tu and btw, thank god I don't have to endure such treatment from my siblings

I was the one did the damage to my elderly siblings .. my buddies would make prank phone calls in the middle of the night to check who can stay up the longest .. obviously I won't be bothered to stay up .. so my sisters had to answer the phone gagagagag

Pie: Again, you're too kind brother.

Anon: Thanks.

Kudo: Haha. Takde sapa nak beli kang bai.

Judd: You need to diet.

Ike: So far, tak pernah pulak laki. Tapi kalau ada memang aku jawab cam sial kot haha...

Anon: Thanks.

PS: Yeah, checked out the video. That kid is something tapi aku tak boleh bawak dia masuk band... nanti dia overshadow kitorang pulak haha...

Sawittri: Your forbidden-bf was quite gutsy then. I couldn't even begin to imagine the horror of dialing a girl's home number back then. Well, even today.

Badol: Bawak bertenang.

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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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