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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Answering Machine Is Teething

I’m at the age where many of my friends — my high-sperm count friends, apparently — have children. Many have had kids for a few years now, so the former fetuses are walking and talking and running around higgledy-piggledy, as former fetuses are often wont to do.

Also, they’re answering the phones. And that’s where my issues start.

See, I’m your average thirty-something middle-class childless guy. I like to drink beer, watch sports, and gab about the game as though I actually had a clue about NFL draft needs, the virtues of a box-and-one defense, or the origins of the infield fly rule. These are things that I can’t do at home — my wife has her own shows to watch, and the dog just stares at me when I start a game of ‘Name That AFC Defensive Lineman‘.

(I mean, you’d think the mutt could at least get Dwight Freeney. It’s a frigging gimme! Bah.)

“It’s like negotiating a hostage release with a cocker spaniel. And involves approximately the same amount of drooling.”

So, I’ve got to leave the house to have my fun. And if I can drag my thirty-something middle-class child-rearing friends along, so much the better. First, it gets them out of the house — and you know they need the break. How many flailing tantrums and pooped-in diapers can one man watch his wife deal with, anyway? It must be exhausting.

Also, since the guys are mentally drained from the rigors of kid wrangling, I tend to win all the sports-related arguments. You take a toddler’s dad, move him away from the kid, sit him on a bar stool and hand him a beer, and he’ll agree with anything. I made ten bucks the other night on a bet that aluminum bats are bad for baseball, then doubled my money arguing the other side. Sweet.

But to drink with the suckers guys, I’ve got to call the guys. And more and more frequently, that involves getting through a small, sugared-up child screening the calls. So I’d often have conversations like this:

Toddler: HELLO?

Me: Um… yeah, hi, Davey. Could you put your Dad on th-

Toddler: HELLO! Hello. Hellohellohellohello. Helllllllllloooooo!

Me: Hi. Hi there, Davey. It’s ‘Uncle Charlie’. Remember me? Is your Daddy home?

Toddler: Yep! Hey — I’m fwee years old!

Me: Yes, I know, Davey. Very nice. I-

Toddler: And a HALF!

Me: Right. Good for you, kid. Now-

Toddler: I like cheese. Cheesa cheesa cheeeeeeeeeeese.

Me: Okay, then. Great. Can I please talk to-

Toddler: Okay, I have to peepee now. Bye! *click*

Damn. It’s nearly impossible to get through that sort of random-access defense. It’s like negotiating a hostage release with a cocker spaniel. And involves approximately the same amount of drooling.

Finally, I found a way to get through. It’s all about channeling the right energies. Finding a common ground the kid and I can both appreciate. Now, these conversations go more like this:

Toddler: Hi! I’m Davey!

Me: *sigh* Hi, Davey.

Toddler: Wanna see my trick?

Me: Um, not right now. Hey, Davey! Wanna know a secret?

Toddler: Yay! A secret!

Me: First — is your Daddy in the room?

Toddler: Uh-huh.

Me: Good. Here’s the secret: ‘Daddy’s got a ti-ny pe-nis. Daddy’s got a ti-ny pe-nis. Daddy’s got a-


Daddy: (getting closer to the phone) What in the- who is that? Gimme that phone! WHO THE HELL IS THIS?

Me: Yo, Gary. We going out for beer, or what?

Daddy: Dude, I cannot believe you would-


Daddy: Davey, hush up. Daddy’s on the phone now.

Toddler: Daddy, what’s a penis? Peeeeeeenis! Penis! Penis! Penis Pay-nissssss!!

Me: C’mon, let’s go.

Daddy: No way. Now I’ve gotta talk to the kid about-


Daddy: … about that. I’m out.

Me: Fine. Suit yourself. *click* Needledick.

See? Much better. If the guy’s not coming out for beers and a ballgame, he should have to pay for it, dammit.

Of course, you have to be careful what you say around these kids. Not that I mind warping young minds — that’s for their parents or eventual psychiatrists to worry about — but saying the wrong thing can come back to bite you in the ass. Consider this exchange I had last week:

Toddler: Hullo? Is this Santa Claus?

Me: Hi. No, Billy, it’s not Santa. Say, is your Dad in the room?

Toddler: Nuh-unh. I think I made a boom-boom.

Me: Yes, charming. Um, how about Mommy? Is your Mommy there?

Toddler: Yeah.

Me: Oooh, really? Heh. Your mommy’s got a nice rack. *pause* No, wait. Oh dear lord, don’t-


And my half of the rest of that conversation:

“Um… yeah, hi, Amy.”

“Uh… you’re welcome?”

“Yes, but-”

“No, I wasn’t-”

“Yes, you’re right. Highly inappropriate. Yes.”

“Never call again. Right. One thousand foot buffer zone. Gotcha.”

“Okay, bye — oh, wait. Amy?”

“Yeah, when you see Gary, tell him to meet me down at the bar in twenty minutes. Thanks, sweettits. Yerapeach.”

You’d be surprised how little sense of humor some parents have. I know I was. I thought raising kids was supposed to make you mellow. Jeez.

Permalink  |  1 Comment

One Response to “The Answering Machine Is Teething”

  1. RRaccoon says:

    Ha! The ad below your post is for cocker spaniel puppies. That amused me. Not as much as, say, sweet tits or a tiny penis, but still.

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