Friday, July 13, 2012

A Tumble in the Family Rankings

"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...



62 comments:

  1. Refreshing, you can really funny at times SHELLY

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    1. Odie: It was humbling, that's for sure!

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  2. Oh, Selly...uh, I mean...SHELLY! (LOL) This is a great one. First of all, I'm delighted to know that your parents have the Dell hotline number written in their phone book. Please let them know I am available to take their calls 24/7. :)

    The human mind fascinates me and I'm trying to figure out how your name wound up so far down the list. Here's my explanation. If your husband and children were listed first it probably means that you were the very first and most important person they thought about when making the list. Sometimes, when our minds are jammed with too many pieces of information, we skip over the obvious ones, the ones we know best, and rush to get the lesser known items jotted down before we forget them. I think this explains why they jumped right to your husband and kids and added your name near the end.

    Here's something to consider. In modern movies and TV shows the actor or actress of greatest stature is often listed last in the credits, rather than first.

    Have a wonderful weekend, dear friend Shelly!

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    1. Shady: Thank you, my friend, for putting a positive spin on it! I can see how that would be...I'm still working on how they could misspell my name, the one they gave me!

      Thank you, and have a wonderful day!

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  3. Hi Selly. Ooops! Sorry, but you did ask for that one!! I see our friend Shady has come up with a very logical explanation as to why you weren't on the top of that list! Do you believe that - nah, me neither!! LOL!! Love what you did by writing SHELLY in red right at the top of the list. I wonder if they will notice, and whether they will say anything. Not that it matters or anything ...... This post did make me smile today :)

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    1. Thisisme: I could have gone the rest of my life not knowing any of that and been fine! Ha! At least they will see it the next time they open the book~

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  4. Dearest SHELLY♡♡♡
    As usual, I couldn't get what you were writing from the title of today's post(^^;)
    Wow, frankly I would get annoyed if I were you! And I will certainly understand if you say you were a bit shocked; but I think your beloved mother just took you for granted as your family were at the top of the list. I think you ARE the important first born girl for your mother.
    We sometimes say in Japan that people who are most close to you can be like "air". We cannot live without it but not much recognize about it in daily life.
    Haha, I don't know if I could express what I want to say p;)

    Oh, please feel free to get offended a bit for a while and then try to figure out like Mr Shady said.

    Sending you lots of love and hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. orchid: It was certainly a surprise, but I like your explanation. I understand perfectly what you are saying. And, when they see my name written in those big red letters, they will know I have seen it, too! Ha! Have a wonderful day, my dear friend, Miyako~

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  5. Oh dear..LOL.
    They PROBABLY know your number off by heart.. you never know?
    They love you and that all that counts. xx

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    1. Crystal Mary: In their defense, I know my number is already programmed into their phones, so that could be. But misspelling my name? Ha! I have to admit, I even laughed at that one~

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  6. Oh, Selly, Selly, Selly. :-) You are still loved.

    :-)

    I have a similar phone book, handwritten, little notes everywhere. I find it lends a certain je ne sais quoi to finding an address/phone number.

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl: I've looked at it again, and one of my sisters and my mom have very similar handwriting. I'm wondering now...did my sister write that in and misspell my name? Adds a whole new twist to it!

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  7. Oh, it SO DOES matter! My siblings and I are constantly vying for that coveted #1 position on Mom's speed dial. I'm really concerned if you are less helpful to your parents than the Dell hotline--because we all know how helpful they are! :) But I will give them props for the Subway takeout. That is definitely emergency worthy! Thanks for the laugh!!

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    1. Nancy: Oh, you understand that competitiveness I feel with my sibs! Ha! At least I outranked the movie times number...

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  8. Shelly, maybe there was no need to list your number, they both already knew it by heart.

    My mother had a similar system of keeping important numbers. Her's were written all over the phone book, not quite organized as your parents' book.

    A unique blog post ... loved it!

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    1. Cindy: I know they have it listed in their phones- I just wish they would spell my name right! Ha!

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  9. My mother had four children naturally, and then adopted three of my cousins when their family fell apart about the time I was ten years old, then got remarried and tacked on three step children. One day I found out that she had every in order by by age on her speed dial.

    I guessed that you might have found out that you weren't on the list because they had your number memorized. I used to have phone numbers memorized, but my phone is a computer now, so it remembers aLL those digits for me.

    Selly - hah!

    You would not believe the number of times I have found my name "Ernie" spelled "Enrie" over the years, and "Ernest" with an a stuck in it. But no, I don't think my parents ever speLLed my name wrong. You are special. Oh, and that executor of the estate job is not aLL that great, trust me. The world is fuLL of thieves and half of them are lawyers or think they are lawyers.

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    1. ESB: I think that's a perfect solution- doing it by age, which still means I come out on top! Ha! I like your mom's system~

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  10. Oh my dearest Shelly, I do so enjoy you!

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  11. Oh, but methinks perhaps it does matter to someone!

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    1. vanilla: Well, the spelling the name right part does!

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    2. Some spare moments, too windy to be outdoors, so I was rereading some of my old blog posts. But then I needed to hear another voice. Where to turn? Why, reread some of Shelly's work, of course. Fun all over again!

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    3. What a grand compliment- thank you!

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  12. I was going to say (before others beat me to it) that the omission was likely because they had your number memorized. And I'd bet someone else wrote your name in.

    Although, once I did call my son by MY OWN NAME! :) Moms get absent-minded now and then, as I'm sure you know from being one yourself!

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    1. jenny_o: I literally laughed out loud- I have done that, too- called my daughter by my name! And I do have a suspicion it was my sister who wrote the list...

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  13. oh my gosh...that is really funny to me...my kids rank everything! and I don't rank anything! I would never have even considered my phone book ranking! I am on the same wavelength as your parents..pizza, library, gym...I think i have them written down in order of when I got the numbers not really a rank. I guess i have to be more mindful of things! but certainly, my first born would be the first person i would call for anything!!

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    1. Annmarie: I do hope I am the first they will call, especially since I live the closest to them!

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  14. Very funny. Reminds me of the time I bet my belligerent mother fifty dollars that she couldn't correctly recite the name on my birth certificate. Mom is not senile and remains sharp as a tack even though she gets most of her facts wrong. She couldn't give the correct name on my birth certificate and claimed it was a misprint, and somehow it was MY fault.

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    1. Stephen: Isn't that the duty of the child, to take the blame for something the parent does? Ha!

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  15. My grandma lived until 94 when the nursing home dropped her - sound mind - but not good at names and I take after her! sandie

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    1. Sandie: Oh, my goodness! 94 and then they drop her??? Good grief- that is awful! But what a treasure she must have been to you all~

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  16. I feel your pain. My dad just self published his life story. I was the copy editor and proof reader. Many, many hours were spent helping him with the book. My husband did all of the layout and art direction. I am the oldest child and only daughter. When my dad proudly handed us our copy of his precious book, he had signed it "With love and affection," and then his name - his WHOLE name, like I maybe wouldn't know who it was otherwise. Just like he signed all of the other books. Yep, that's my dad.

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    1. Karen: Oh, that made me laugh- you just became one of the masses. I wonder if we all are going to be like our parents when we get to their age~

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  17. Too cute!! I love their way of keeping track of phone numbers; hubby's parents had an old book they would do the same in; it was kind of funny seeing the listing for our name because the numbers kept being crossed out since we moved so much :)

    I bet they'll get a laugh when they see SHELLY written so boldly!

    enjoy the weekend!

    betty

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    1. Betty: I am waiting to hear if they do notice! Ha!

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  18. I've been pronouncing it Selly this whole time. The H is silent, right?

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    1. Missed Periods: Apparently it is!

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  19. My parents have a phone book but it doesn't have a special place unless you condsider the kitchen table a special place......lol

    My parents also had my husband listed as the emergency contact over me for many years why because they are worried I would fall apart if I got some bad news.........lol

    So did they noticed the big red SHELLY...........

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  20. Jo-Anne: My dad is still in the hospital, so they haven't yet, but I'm sure they will when they get home!

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  21. Um, maybe it was just memorized that that's why it wasn't put in the right place or with the right spelling? Maybe?

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  22. Haaaaa right back at ya and I'll bet your folks have got your number!

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  23. I have to admit you had me giggling all the way through this one! I'm so glad you came to visit from Odie's blog. This made my day!

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    1. Craziness abounds: Thank you so much for stopping by! We never know where we rank with others, even our parents!

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  24. Ouch - - - your number wasn't the first one? Awe - - - It is because they probably know it by heart.

    We did not have a phone growing up in India. My parents did not have one while my Dad was in the hospital. Then my Mom moved in with my brother and still had no phone of her own. she would hesitate to use anyone's phone so I would always call her. These days an eight year old has a phone.

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    1. Munir: You are so right! I know a 5 year old who recently got a cell phone. Good grief~

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  25. Dear Shelly, I agree with "Munir." Your parents probably know your number by heart. Still I found myself smiling as I came to the end of your posting. I can so see myself doing the same thing. Bold, red, inch-high letters that proclaim, "Here I am, Folks!" Peace.

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    1. Dee: I did peek at my mom's phone and she does have me listed with my name spelled correctly, so I hope it was just an inadvertant slip! Glad to know we think alike~

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  26. What an ego bust! I'm going to take a peek at my mom's address book when I get home. Thankfully she uses the alphabetical method of organization.

    The closest relationships are the most complicated. I have and mom, and a daughter, and I love them both. But both are also my most challenging relationships on an emotional level. Intelligence combined with familiar doesn't always equal common sense, or spiritual connection.

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    1. Jenny: Oh, so true! And, although I'm not taking offense, I did check my own address book to be sure I'd spelled my kids' names right~

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  27. Might call you Selly from now on...just because!

    Being the first born, I think you do deserve a spot right at the top and in red. You seem spunky and I like that!

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    1. Christine: Well, you evidently won't be the first! And yes, I agree first borns deserve some kind of special status...

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  28. Shelly, the reason you weren't at the top of the list is that they have your number memorized! :)

    Hope your dad is healing quickly. Loved reading this!

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    1. Simone: I hope so! Thank you, and I hope your recuperation is going well~

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  29. Oh my goodness, Shelly, this was one of the sweetest, funniest most heartwarming tales I’ve read in a long while! I can just imagine the expression on your face transforming from a smile to a dropped jaw as you scanned through that book—and found “Selly”! LOL No doubt your parents probably have what they believe is a logical explanation. I definitely get a sense that you’re dearly loved. :)

    I still have the address/phone book I started before I was a teen. I used it long into my marriage. I keep meaning to toss it out because it’s so obsolete, but it brings back so many fond memories each time I come upon it every year or two. It has so many entries and scratch-outs and rewrites and words and names upside down and in scrawled in margins that just about every bit of space is filled—but I can still decipher it, even though to someone else it would look like a book of nonsensical codes.

    Best wishes for your dad’s full and speedy recovery!

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    1. Super Earthling: Thank you! And you know, I think there are things sometimes we are better off NOT knowing. Need to remember that before I go snooping again~

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  30. Awww, I'm sorry about your pecking order on the list. Hopefully they never need it anyway.

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    1. Theresa: It popped the illusory bubble of princess-hood, that's for sure!

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  31. Okay, now my friend...as a Mom you have to KNOW your name wasn't on the top because yours is the ONE THEY HAVE MEMORIZED! I knew when I clicked on the post I was gonna love this one...and I do. Your talent as a writer is always IN YOUR FACE superb! I love to read anything your write about, even the lists on the inside of the phone book!
    Hugs~

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    1. Sush: I'm sure they do have it memorized- I just need to refresh them on how to spell it! Thank you, my friend, for your always kind words!

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