Behind the Times

Getting the back story
Modine

Once you flush a toilet you can’t take it back. You better be sure that the goldfish is dead.

Or, worse, that you don’t happen to be on the phone with somebody important.

Because once you flush, they have a mental image of you sitting there, doing what you been doing this whole time you been talking about your daughter’s algebra grades.

I happen to be sitting in the bathroom when Ms. Landry, my daughter’s algebra teacher, calls. I pick up because it’s the school number and I don’t know we are going to get into a conversation about equations.

I get very involved in this conversation. And then I flush, in the middle of a sentence. 

I wasn’t thinking. I just did it. And I realize what I done when there is a dramatic pause on the other end, and Ms. Landry says, “Uh— I better let you go,” and gets off the line. I’m lucky she didn’t say, “I better let you wipe off.”

You got to be so sneaky about life these days.

Then there’s the whole “butt-call,” thing. For a long time, my mother-in-law Ms. Larda thought that meant passing gas real loud. I had to explain it’s not that; it’s sitting with your phone in your back pocket, and somehow making the phone call a random number. With college kids, it’s usually their mother. (God has His ways.)

The nice way to say it is “pocket dialing.” But hardly nobody is nice enough to say that. 

Anyway, yesterday Ms. Larda calls me up (on purpose) and bellows into the phone, “Modine! Do you know where your daughter Gladiola is?”

 At her friend Charmette’s. Supposedly studying, I tell her.

“Supposedly is right,” says Ms. Larda. “I just got an accidental boot call from her and I got an earful. I can’t even repeat it, Modine.” 

“Butt call,” I correct automatically. But I grab my car keys and get myself over to Charmette’s. Her big brother Bubba opens the door (hmph! I say to myself) and I ask where’s Gladiola and he yells “Gladiola! Ya mama wants ya!” and Gladiola comes downstairs, looking guilty.

I tell her it’s time to go home, and when we get in the car, I ask what was going on in there. Gladiola hangs her head. 

“We took a break to watch a little TV.”

 “Who took a break?” 

“Me and Charmette. We watched a little bit of that old movie, ‘When Harry Met Sally.’”

I think for a minute— “What part of When Harry Met Sally?”

“The scene where they’re — you know—-in a restaurant and, she pretends she’s— um—and then that lady says, ‘I’ll have what she’s having.’”

“Any chance you pocket-dialed Gramma Gunch?”

“OHHH. Is THAT why you’re here?” 

We look at each other and sit there and laugh and cackle like two fools. But underneath that I am squirming, because this means my baby knows what  — you know—sounds like. 

I guess “When Harry Met Sally” came out, Ms. Larda heard it was a dirty movie and didn’t go. 

I call Ms. Larda back and explain it was a movie. .

“And you believe that,” Ms. Larda says in a dry voice. “Sometimes I wonder about you, Modine.”

Today she calls again. “I got a booty call…” she starts.

Oh sheesh. I can’t believe she used that expression. 

“You mean butt call,” I say. “A booty call is when a guy calls you at night because he wants…”— I better clean this up — “suppose you are trying to have a baby, within the bounds of holy matrimony, and your husband, —say, he works at night,  and he calls and says he’s coming home quick so you two can,  uh, conceive  the baby now.”

There is silence, then a snort, then a lot of stifled haw-hawing. 

Finally she says, “Thanks for young-splaining, Modine, but booty calls been around since pay phones.” 

“Old man McCosby had a few drinks and called me, around midnight, feeling romantic, and no, I did not let him come over. 

“You got to get more worldly, girl,” and she snickers and hangs up. 

You just never know.