Ring this up as another one of my mistakes if you think I'm wrong, but I'm declaring this the birthday of the phone because Alexander Graham Bell received the patent for his telephone invention on this day in 1876.
Some people disagree with me, saying that Bell was not the only one to invent what has become the annoying device we all rely on so much today. In fact, Bell filed for his patent a mere two hours before inventor Elisha Gray filed for his own phone patent.
Western Union Telegraph ended up hiring Gray and Thomas Alva Edison to create its telephone system, while Bell started up the Bell Company, which went on to become the telecommunications giant AT&T – that's American Telephone and Telegraph.
So, if not for that remarkable invention 137 years ago, Carly Rae Jepsen would not have had her mega hit, "Call Me Maybe," last summer. What a lackluster summer vacation it would have been for kids everywhere. For me, too, for crying out loud!
Also, if not for the phone, telemarketers would not exist to bother us. And without them, Jerry Seinfeld would have had no telemarketer schtick in that great "Seinfeld" episode:
Telemarketer: Hi. Would you be interested in switching over to TMI long-distance service?
Jerry: Oh, gee, I can't talk right now. Why don't you give me your home number, and I'll call you later.
Telemarketer: Uh, well, I'm sorry, we're not allowed to do that.
Jerry: Oh, I guess you don't want people calling you at home.
Jerry: Well, now you know how I feel.
Several generations have watched and are still watching "The Andy Griffith Show," set in the little town of Mayberry, where the sheriff's office was equipped with such modern telecommunications technology as that old candlestick telephone. Can you imagine that classic television show without Andy clicking on the phone and asking the local operator, Sarah, to get him the mayor's office? And Barney Fife had to have a phone with which to call Juanita and sing sweet nothings into her ear, while Andy listened – undetected – from behind. Classic stuff.
Phones have come a long way. My home phone can tell me who's calling me. I appreciate that. If I'm busy, and I see or hear that I have a call from someone I know is going to talk my ear off for an hour, I can ignore it and stay busy at what I'm busy at. That's a good phone feature.
My business card says that I threw my cell phone into Silver Creek. That's not because I don't want my cell phone number to be on my card. It's because I threw my cell phone into Silver Creek. You see, I was fishing along the creek, relaxing on a beautiful day in the solitude and serenity of the hardwood forest. My hands smelled like bottomland mud and night-crawler ooze and fish slime, and my ears were enjoying the sounds of pileated woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds, young wood ducks, scurrying red squirrels and the rustling breeze. Suddenly, it all was interrupted by that stupid phone. I tossed it into Silver Creek.
Now my phone bill is cheaper. I pay AT&T every month for just the home phone service. It's still too much, though. It's like that old joke: Talk is cheap? Have you seen my phone bill? I guess the joke was funnier a few decades ago, when Henny Youngman did it.
When I was very young, all the phones were rotary-dial phones. You stuck your index finger in the hole with the appropriate number and rotated the dial. You repeated that until all the numbers were dialed. From that came the phrase "dial the number," as in: Dial the number in front of you now, and we'll send you the Super Chopper for just $9.99.
Phones today are super smart. Many of them are called smartphones. A smartphone owner can shoot photographs, play games, access the Web, text messages, check mail, look at sports scores, even make phone calls. Sometimes I yearn for the days of old, the days of simplicity, the days of rotary dial.
Listen, if you want to dial me, I'm in the book. So, call me maybe – or maybe not.