"It's in the old phone book in the far right drawer of the credenza, " my mom instructed. "You know, in the list."
I nodded, even though we were talking on the phone. "I remember- I'll get it and then call you."
My dad was recuperating in the hospital in a nearby city from a knee replacement surgery (and doing well) and my mom had asked me to find the phone number of their air conditioner repairman and call her with it before we headed to the hospital. She feared a leak was beginning somewhere in the ceiling with the new system they have.
As I drove to their house, I thought about the old phone book. Since my childhood, there has been some version of that book in that same drawer she described. My parents are smart; my mom is a retired teacher and my dad is a retired school superintendent, and normally they are well organized in all they do. Except...except for the phone book.
Rather than get a PDA, or even a formal address book, they use one of their phone books to write in phone numbers; phone numbers of people in descending order of importance to contact in case of emergencies, phone numbers of out of town people belonging to various organizations they are in, phone numbers of various repairmen and tractor parts stores, etc. Thus, my trek down to find the number of their air conditioner man.
Although I hadn't seen the book in years, I went right to the drawer where I knew it would be and pulled out the latest incarnation of the book. I scanned the inside the front cover and saw the names and numbers of people from their church and from their 50th high school reunion. Other numbers were written in the margin, but not the one I was looking for.
I flipped to the back inside cover. There was the "Emergency Contacts" list. It was so long it was stapled on and consumed several sheets of paper. Before I even read it, I puffed up a bit, knowing that I would be at the top of that list. After all, I am the oldest child in my family, I gave them their first grandchildren, I am the executor of their will, I went to their alma mater...
However, at the top of the list was my husband's name and number, followed by that of my children. Then, my siblings' numbers as well as those of their families. Then, my aunts and uncles and some cousins. Hmmm.
I kept reading. Their doctors' numbers were next, then their pastor's number, then the neighbor five miles down the road. Then came the tractor salesman, the number of the neighbor of the Amish enclave where they buy chickens, and the number of a man who does custom hay baling. Now, we were bleeding over onto another page.
There was the vet's number, the feed store number, the Dell hotline number, and then the one I was looking for; the air conditioner repairman's number.
But where was mine??? I reminded myself this didn't matter. My parents make it obvious they love us all equally. This was nothing in the grand scheme of things. I continued.
There was the number to the Help Desk at Walmart, the customer service number at NetFlix, and the garden supply store. A number for a scrap metal place and one for the local cotton gin followed.
I continued scanning until I eventually spotted mine, wedged between the number for Subway takeout and the automated line for movie listings.
And. my. name. was. misspelled.
Instead of Shelly it was "Selly".
I am puffed up no more! Prideful of my first born position no longer! But I did leave one change in the book. When they open it again, they will find SHELLY written in one inch block letters at the very top of the list. In red. And underlined. Not that it matters or anything...