Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Cutting the Cord

June 23, 2014

I recently came to the realization that someone in my family is having difficulty cutting the cord. I’m referring to my 89 year old mother and her telephone. A recent phone conversation with Mom went like this:

    

“Mom, have you been outside today?”

    

“No. Why?”

    

“Go open your front door. You’re in for a treat.”

    

“What are you talking about?”

    

Tina, our friend the magnificent gardener—I’ve posted about her before—heard that my mother loves cherries. Tina picked cherries from the tree in her backyard and drove them to Mom’s retirement home. She didn’t want to bother Mom and left the cherries outside her door. “Just go and check,” I said.

    

“All right. I’ll call you back.”

    

“Mom, take the phone with you. I’ll wai—”

    

Click… She’d hung up.

    

A few minutes later she called back. “There’s a beautiful bag of cherries in front of my door!”

    

“Yes, I know. They’re from our friend Tina. Why did you hang up?”

    

“You told me to check the front door. So I did.”

    

“Yeah, but why did you hang up instead of taking the phone with you?”

    

The conversation went downhill from there, but it made me realize that as far as my mother was concerned the telephone was still attached to the kitchen wall, just as it was all those years I was growing up.

    

I thought back to dozens of phone conversations we’ve had where she would end the conversation because she needed to get the backscratcher in the bedroom or a sip of water from the glass on the kitchen counter. All those times she’d hung up for a moment only to call right back. For some reason she refused to take the phone with her.

    

She sighed into the receiver, probably sensing I was going to say something to further her distaste for modern technology.

    

“Mom, I bought you that phone. It’s cordless. You can take it anywhere in your apartment. Even the bathroom.”

    

“I’m not going to talk to you if I’m sitting on the commode.”

    

She’s the only one I’ve ever known to call a toilet a commode. “I appreciate it that you don’t call me from the bathroom, but you could. Like I said, the phone is cordless.”

    

“I’m not stupid. I know it doesn’t have a cord.”

    

“I know you know, but what good is a cordless phone if you refuse to take it more than three feet from the cradle?”

    

“If I carry it around I’ll probably lose it.”

    

“You lose it anyway. You’ve butt dialed me on more than one occasion.”

    

“Butt dialed?” Her voice dripped with disgust.

    

“Yes, butt dialed. All those phone conversations we have when neither one of us has dialed. You’re sitting on the phone. It’s under your bum and when you fidget around you accidentally press my number on speed dial.”

    

“I’m not responsible for that. There’s something wrong with this phone.”

    

She’s right—there is something wrong with her phone. The stupid thing doesn’t have a cord and it isn’t bolted to the kitchen wall like it’s supposed to be.

    

Some people have difficulty cutting the cord.

 

 

    

        

 



Comments

26 Comments
That might be a good idea. My mom and sisters go through cordless phones like other people go through socks. A lot of that is cat-related I think.
By: PT Dilloway on June 23, 2014
From a different perspective.... I wonder what gadgets we'll have to deal with when we're in our supposed 'golden years'.
By: Daniel LaFrance on June 23, 2014
oh hahah !! We have a few analog phones that must be plugged in to work- I refuse to answer those because I won't be able to move around while talking....I can get so much done while my overly chatty buddies go on and on! Little do they know that I've dusted, folded laundry, prepared dinner and gone outside and weeded! However, I draw the line at using the bathroom facilities!
By: on June 23, 2014
She has a point, she might lose it. I once video's my mom at about the same age, playing with the grandchildren. "Hey mom, look at this I have you on video." "Oh no you don't, it has to be developed." "No look." I showed her the video on the camera. "Oh poo, that's some kind of a trick, you can't fool me." Ya gotta love'em.
By: Cranky on June 23, 2014
Oh my goodness, I've spilled my morning fruit drink and spit on the computer......I love your stories starring you very infuriating mother.....too funny Hope you enjoy the fruit crisp. Oma
By: Oma Linda on June 23, 2014
My mom calls the toilet a "commode."
By: Michael Offutt on June 23, 2014
Yes, advancing years and technology is often an unstable combination. Reminds me of when we were describing the virtues of "freeze-frame" to an elderly aunt, who responded, "But what if the neighbors are watching the same program!"
By: Bryan Jones on June 23, 2014
too funny. loved the graphic at the end. :)
By: TexWisGirl on June 23, 2014
The opposite end of the spectrum is the young folks who take the phone and set it down wherever they finish using it instead of putting it back in the charger.
By: Uncle Skip on June 23, 2014
My kids aren't allowed to take the cordless phone, either. They lose it. That's why i make them use their own phones, not the house phone. Oh, and by the way, we still have one of those with the rotary dials. It's the only kind that will still work when power goes out after a hurricane. Yes, really.
By: mimi on June 23, 2014
Hey guys, my Blogger Dashboard isn't working and I can't access any of your blogs. Anyone else having this problem? I'll leave comments on your blogs as soon as I can.
By: Chubby Chatterbox on June 23, 2014
My mom calls the toilet the "stool." She has problems with her cordless phone. Every time she tries to answer, she hits a wrong button, and you hear her say, "OH! Just a minute! Are you there?" And she constantly hits buttons with her cheek, so in the middle of a conversation you get a bunch of beeps.
By: Val on June 23, 2014
I'm guessing she wouldn't have anything at all to do with a Bluetooth? :) S
By: Scott Park on June 23, 2014
She wouldn't be the first to lose it. We savvy sorts lose them all the time. I think that is why there is the phone locator button on the base. Plus when the power goes off, the cordless phone is worthless. Yea for those phones tied to the wall. Do I sound a lot like your Mom? Might be a generational thing.
By: Akansas Patti on June 23, 2014
Your mother and my mother sound somewhat alike. My sister and I skyped once when my mother was at her house...the whole thing blew her mind.
By: Pixel Peeper on June 23, 2014
Wonder what our generation will do of similar "old fashionedness?"
By: Tom Cochrun on June 23, 2014
We called it a commode growing up. In fact, I still have trouble saying "toilet" - it sounds more unsavory :) We've been having trouble with our land line, so Mike replaced my cordless phone with a CORDED one. I'm just waiting for the first time I forget that it's attached & go wondering off...
By: The Bug on June 24, 2014
Too funny. Your mother is a hoot. My mom referred to it as a commode also.. not as a matter of course but just for fun, on occasion.
By: Hilary on June 24, 2014
This one of those stories that you can only say sad but true. there are some people we cannot help. they won't let us help them. I wonder if we'll be the same.
By: red on June 24, 2014
I'm going to take your Mom's side on this one. There is something wrong with modern technology when butt dialing happens more easily than finger dialing.
By: Robyn Engel on June 24, 2014
She is quite the character, your Mom!
By: John on June 25, 2014
If you keep picking on her, she might cut something else!
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on June 25, 2014
Somethings just aren't worth trying to convince other people of. She is teathered to the wall with or without a cord because that is what she is limiting herself to do. I have several older friends that just won't allow themselves to open their minds to a different way of doing things.
By: Cheryl P. on June 25, 2014
If she knows she will lose it, I think she's smart to stay next to the base. As we get older, we have to come up with these tricks to get along!
By: jenny_o on June 25, 2014
Bless her heart, Stephen. It's not entirely her fault. I see the issue as one of adjusting to references that were more concrete in previous decades. The cell phone and other technology has drastically changed the way we communicate, and it's very challenging to older generations.
By: Michael Manning on June 26, 2014
Unlike your mother, my mother has developed a love for cordless phones, computers, and Skype. However, any times there's a problem (often), it's the fault of the technology and never the fault of the user.
By: Mitchell is Moving on July 11, 2014

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