How To Talk On The Phone (Chatelaine)
Illustration, Leeandra Cianci

How To Talk On The Phone (Chatelaine)

Phone makes a weird sound. Do not panic! This means someone is calling you.

Originally published March 2020 in Chatelaine

Do you see this weird buzzing box in your hand? Yes, it’s a bottomless portal to the parsing of horrifying world news and/or pictures of everybody’s #pandemicmuffins. But it is also a Phone, and you can talk on it—with your mouth. (WAIT, WHAT?!) It’s kind of like texting, but you say the words out loud. Phone-talking is a useful skill to have right now and, since everyone is a bit out of practice, here’s a quick refresher.

Step 1: What is Phone?

Cast your mind back. It’s 1989. You’re desperate to lose your virginity, blissfully unaware of how singularly disappointing this experience will be (thanks for nothing, Brett). You spend three hours a day examining important matters with your friends on Phone, which you’ve dragged into your bedroom. Phone is attached to a long, winding cord so you have to lay awkwardly on the floor just . . . talking? Sometimes you also paint your toenails. This is very modern. Occasionally, your dad picks up on another extension, and you just hope it’s not at the exact moment when you’re asking your friend if she has any advice on how to give blow jobs because, seriously, you blew on that thing for ages and no dice. But the real lesson here is you already survived a time when everyone in your home used the same Phone, so you can survive this, too. Also, Free Winona!

Step 2: Say hello

Okay. Let’s review. Phone makes a weird sound. Sometimes it sounds like a bell and sometimes it sounds like a minuet (who are you, Beethoven?). Do not panic! This means someone is calling you. Usually, it’s the NDP or a duct cleaning company, but during this special time it may actually be someone you know. Press “answer,” and then you can say something like, “Um, hello?”

Step 3: Chitty chat chat

Now you engage in a practice called “chit-chat.” Chit-chat is inconsequential conversation, mostly about what you’re wearing, what you had for lunch and who was wrong (the answer to the latter is always your spouse). The point is not to actually impart any useful information—it’s just to hear a sound other than the Netflix start-up menu or the echoing emptiness of your own despair (which, weirdly, also sounds like a minuet).

Step 4: Be warned

Chit-chat is a gateway drug. You may slip into having a real discussion about things that are worrying you (everything), your hopes (restaurants), your fears (untimely death) and your wildest dreams (restaurants). BONUS: Pretend you’re on a conference call from work so you definitely can’t help with homeschooling right now!

Step 5: Sign off

Eventually you will need to end the Phone-talking so you can get your recommended six hours per day of staring sadly out the window. Handy ways to end the conversation include phrases like: “K, I should go and eat some more Kraft Dinner now because carbs are BACK!” or, for the minimalist, a simple-yet-chic “Okay, bye.”