When I was a kid, no one ever went running through the house asking, "Where's the phone?" No one ever began tossing newspapers and papers off the couch, rummaging about, swearing, searching desperately for the phone. No one ever yelled, "Someone call me so I can find my phone!"
The telephone, black and impressively big, was firmly anchored onto the kitchen wall. We all knew where it was. My mother kept a pad of paper and pen right near the phone, so that anyone who answered the phone could take messages. The answering machine hadn't been invented yet. Cell phones hadn't been invented yet either, so the only time you might see a phone vibrating against someone's leg would be in a comedy skit.
I can still remember my first cordless phone, and what a luxury it was. With several small kids at home, the telephone was my connection to the world of adults. The cordless phone allowed me to talk to a friend while I followed my kids around to make sure they weren't sticking things in their mouths or setting anything on fire. I learned to play Candy Land with a small child, change a toddler's diaper, breastfeed an infant, and balance a phone on my shoulder all at the same time. But yeah, it was weird to have a phone that I could lose. My friends would come over with their kids on Wednesday mornings, and right before they left, they'd gather up all the toys that were scattered about my small living room and dump them in the toy box. Inevitably, that's where I'd find the phone.
My kids have grown up with the idea that phones are portable devices that can be tossed from person to person and left stranded wherever you happen to be when you end the phone call. Without a phone attached to the wall, they were never trained to write down those phone messages. Shaggy Hair Boy is usually the quickest to answer the phone, but he is terrible about giving me messages, even when I'm just downstairs in my office. As my parents' car will pull into the driveway, he'll yell, "Oh, yeah, I forgot I was supposed to tell you. Grandma said that they were coming over."
Yesterday, my mother called and left a message with Shaggy Hair Boy that she had apple pies in the oven and that we could have one if we came over at 4 pm to pick it up. Shaggy Hair Boy came bounding down the stairs to tell me the news. He loves homemade apple pie. Just before 4 pm, he reminded me again. When we entered my mother's house, which smelled wonderfully of cinnamon, my mother laughed. "I knew somehow that this was one phone message that Shaggy Hair Boy would remember to give you."