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938 Girl on the Block


I don't know about you, Gentle Readers, but I need a break from politics. Too much talking from both sides makes my head hurt. So let's chat about something else. I know! How about the fact I got a new cell phone!

            I should make a confession that I don't like cell phones very much. Maybe it's because I'm on BART a lot and then I have to hear people's conversations all the freaking time. Tuesday I was heading home and I listened to ten minutes about a girl trying to get birth control. Okay, do I really need to know this? I almost wanted to tell her "Look, I'm glad you're getting birth control because my policy is no baby before its time, but come on! Do you have to share this with the whole car?" I didn't, by the way.

            However, I get the fact they are needed in cases of emergency, are handy to have, blah, blah, blah. So I bought a cell phone at Target that was very spiffy. You can choose your own cellphone ring. I'm trying to get the Coronation Street theme for mine; it's a very jazzy, catchy ring.

            However, how do you program the darned thing?  The directions say look for the EBN number. I look for the EBN number. No luck. It says look for the SB number. I look for that. No luck. I double check to make sure I still have a college degree. I do have that. I know I can manage programming a cell phone.

            I had the same phone number for over twenty-five years. I rattled off that number like it was in my blood. I had to study it for my kindergarten class. If we knew our number by heart, we would get a little phone. It took three tries, but I finally got the little phone. I chose pink.

            This was when my mother dropped me off every morning at my grandparents before she went to work. I ate oatmeal and watched Howdy Doody. Yes, I know that sounds odd, but Howdy was trying to make a comeback back then. I don't think it lasted, so he went to join Charlie McCarthy at a bar where Mortimer Snerd was bartending. While I ate breakfast, my grandmother and I recited my phone number, repeatedly.

            The first three numbers were 938, which meant it was from Walnut Creek. We lived on the border of Walnut Creek when I was four and five, hence the number. When we moved to Pleasant Hill when I was six, we kept the number. It was one less thing to worry about with combining two households.   

            When anyone asked me for my phone number, I could recite it at the top of the hat. It never changed. Sometimes when people were trying to track me down, they would try the number and then they would say "Oh thank God. I thought you might've moved and I didn't know how I was going to find you."
            Sometimes I was a little too liberal giving out the number. One summer I scribbled it down on a couple of yearbooks when people asked me for my number. I was so flattered, wow! They wanted my phone number! Then that summer I kept on getting these phone calls. Here's how it would go:

            Ring, Ring!

            Me: Hello?

            Me: Hello?


            Me: Hello?

            Me: I'm hanging up now!


            I felt like I was in a Lois Duncan book.

            Back then, there was no star 69, so I had no idea how to track down who was calling me. I felt very frightened. I was teased in middle school and one time a boy who thought it was perfectly okay to thrust his body towards me and say, "You know what to do," followed me home. I locked the door and my bedroom door, shaking. My mother was at work and my dad was in the City. I did not want to call my grandfather because he could have made it worse. I watched from my window as he went down Patterson on his bike. To this day when I see a group of boys on a bike, I get frightened.

            Finally, my mother had enough. One time when the person called my mother answered the phone. After saying hello several times and there was no answer, she finally said, "Look here. I don't know what kind of fucking game you are playing, but it's not funny. If you keep this up, I believe the Pleasant Hill police will be very interested in tracking down this phone call and speaking to your parents." When she said the word parents, there was a dial tone. They never called again.

            Three years ago, my mother and I decided to move to Lafayette. It meant several things of course: packing, getting the Dish, etc. My mother called the phone company to get the phone switched and to set up Internet access. "Okay, we'll get that set up for you, ma'am, for new service on January 1, 2006! Let me just tell you your new number..."

            "Wait a minute," Mom said. "What do you mean a new number?"

            "Ma'am, you need a new number with living in Lafayette."

            "But I've had this number for twenty-five years. Is there any way we can keep it?"

            "I'm afraid not, ma'am."

            In shock, my mother jotted down our new number. 

            My father took the news very hard. "I have your number programmed in my phone," he told me. "How am I going to get used to a new number?"

            "You got me," I said back to him.

            There are still times I start to give my number "938..." then I have to stop. I'm not a 938 girl anymore. Now I'm a 283 woman who can star sixty-nine someone. I know how to give Indian Rope burns and knock someone on their ass if they press up against me. I'm nobody's fool. All I have to do is program my cell phone to prove it.