These days, when so many of us communicate regularly online with people we may never actually meet in person, it’s easy for us to forget that there was a time when such relationships were a very rare thing indeed. Oh sure, many people had “pen pal” type relationships through the mail, many of which I know were of a romantic nature. And there were, of course, all kinds of business-related relationships that developed over the phone, but before the advent of so-called “phone sex” lines, I don’t think those relationships had much of an “emotional” element to them.
Well I did have a deeply felt over-the-phone relationship once, and, for some reason, I awoke this morning with the memories of that relationship swirling around in my mind…
It all happened entirely by accident, really. It was the winter of 1969 / 1970, beginning just before my fourteenth birthday. I was living in my oldest sister’s two bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, California, with her and her four kids. As you can imagine, that wasn’t the most comfortable living arrangement, and my sister had developed the habit of spending as much time away from the apartment as she could, leaving me stuck there, in that small apartment, babysitting her kids.
But my sister wasn’t completely without a conscience apparently, although I might have argued differently at the time, and she did at least attempt to check in on us while she away. I say “attempt” because my niece, who was barely three years younger than I was, had gotten into the annoying habit of yakking away for hours on end on the phone with one of her schoolmates.
Since this was way before “call waiting” came along, my sister couldn’t get through when she called, and we had no way of even knowing that she had even tried. And that, of course, left me in the unenviable position of both hearing my sister bitch about having to “worry” that something “bad” might have happened (a problem easily solved, of course, by simply keeping her ass at home), and being assigned the task of limiting my niece’s time on the phone so she could have the “peace of mind” she needed to enjoy her time away.
And it was being assigned this most unwanted “phone monitor” job that led to my “entirely accidental telephone romance”…
One day, after losing track of time myself while watching TV (for those who’ve wondered where my long standing TV addiction first began, you now have your answer), it occurred to me that it was probably time for my niece to give give the phone a rest. Having had that argument many times before, this time I decided to just grab the phone from her and apologize to her friend before hanging it up myself – and found myself listening to, rather than giving, the exact same apology!
Apparently, my niece’s friend also had a babysitter who’d been tasked with the job of limiting her time on the phone. And, after a short, embarrassing conversation to clear up the confusion, we ended up spending most of what remained of the evening chatting away on the phone ourselves – my sister’s “concerns” having been completely blown away by my raging teenage hormones working in concert with an instantaneous “soul mate” type connection that captured us both in a spell that was nothing short of magical!
And thus began our deeply felt (on my part at least), entirely-over-the-phone romance. One with an emotional impact that has remained with me to this very day…
Now you’re probably wondering at this point why we never actually met face to face. That’s where the story get’s a little embarrassing I’m afraid. Well, quite a bit embarrassing actually! You see, after talking with “my new sweetheart” only over the phone for days on end, we finally did get around to discussing such a face to face meeting. Unfortunately, that’s also when I discovered, to my complete amazement, that this hormonally charged fourteen year old boy had spent all that time talking to, and falling “in love” with, a nineteen year old woman!
It’s funny, now, and at my current age, to think of how few eyebrows would be raised by me having a relationship with a woman a mere five years my senior. But I can’t think of any point in history when a nineteen year old woman dating a fourteen year old boy wouldn’t have been frowned upon. Hell, nowadays that woman might well be brought up on “corrupting a minor” charges, if not for outright pedefilia!
Just how we could have spent so much time talking without ever discovering our staggering age difference is completely beyond my ability to explain. All I can say for sure is that, although I was wracked with guilt over what I knew but she didn’t every second that it lasted beyond that point, I knew that I did NOT want to give that relationship up – which put me in the extremely uncomfortable position of having to repeatedly come up with excuses for why I couldn’t make this or that suggested meeting – just so I could hang on to it for a little while longer!
Well, to keep an already too long story from getting any longer, I ended up being saved from having my lies exposed (not to mention a possible asskicking), when my sister decided that she’d had enough of my crap and sent me packing back to Ohio to live with my mother again. If you’re curious as to the “crap” I’m referring to, not to mention the “crap” that resulted in me being in Los Angeles in the first place, you can read about it in my More Environmental Impact and Tolerance… Not! Race posts.
As for this sordid little tale, although I don’t remember my telephone sweetheart’s name, I will never forget her, or the crazy, wonderful, months we spent “romancing the phone”…
Which, I guess, is why I’ve always had a profound emotional connection to these two songs as well…
Update: I captured the following image from Google Maps, showing a satellite view of the apartment building in L.A. that I lived in during the time of this story. I think it’s so cool that it’s still there, over 40 years later, almost exactly as I remember it!
I want ice water.
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