Feeling old and dated,
 like the music I listen to.
 Some guy is talking  
 to the telephone operator
 on a pay phone
 where a call only cost a dime.
 Talk about your dinosaurs.
 I'm older than that,
 remembering the big black telephone
 that sat on a table in the hallway
 when I was a child. 
 It was heavy too;
 might have been used as a weapon,
 and though I can't remember  
 it ever happening,
 if it fell off the table  
 and landed on your foot,
 I'm sure bones would've been broken.
 We didn't have an area code,
 and dialing 0 or 411
 would get you an actual person
 on the other end of the line,
 always a woman,
 always doing her best to help.
 Today's phones will show you the time,
 but we had a number to call:
 At the tone the time will be...
 When I was a teenager,
 I got an extension phone in my bedroom.
 The excitement was real,
 a pink princess phone
 with a long cord,  
 light enough to hold in your hands
 and move around the room.
 Oh, the joy of hours spent  
 talking to my best friend.
 When my parents would ask  
 how much can you say to each other
 when you just spent the entire day together,
 I'd roll my eyes and keep talking.
 People use phones today
 for just about everything—
 except talking to each other.
 The idea of pay phones in public places
 is beyond their imagining;
 who needs that when everyone
 has a phone in their pocket?
 I've tried to move along with the times;
 I even have a smartphone,
 that I don't use for half  
 of what it's capable of.  
 It's smarter than I am
 and at times I think it mocks me.
 Another song with a prominent pay phone
 is playing on the radio;
 the operator wants 40¢ more
 for the next three minutes...
 You don't hear many songs today
 that tell a story like that.
 I miss the young woman I was
 when pay phones were still a thing.

~Elise Skidmore ©2021


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