A Conversation with Mum about Answering Machine Messages and Alien Abduction (Roll over Adele)
Background: Since answering machines were invented it’s been Dad giving a greeting and doing the usual leave a message thing. He does it without a stutter or a stumble, quite professional if I do say so myself. He thought answering the phone politely was important and as kids we had a special routine we used to answer a call, because you never knew, it could be someone important or for Dad’s work.
Action: Mum calls when I’m in the middle of other stuff. I answer and tell her I’ll call her back.
Me: Ring Mum and Dad’s place. Get the answering machine. It’s not a man’s voice. Hang up immediately. Check the number I dialled. Yes, that’s right, how strange. Dial again. Get the answering machine. A woman’s voice. Mum’s voice. This is what she says:
Mum: Um, er. Hello. This is. Um. Hello. Well, I’m not coming to the phone. Hello. You better leave a message. Hello. Yes, leave a message.
Me: If this is how you’ve chosen to tell me Dad’s dead, it’s not funny.
Me: Still Mum’s voice on the machine. Hello, where are you? Why is it your voice on the machine? I think—hmm, when I said I’d call her back, did she say they’d be out? Did she sound odd in some way and I was too hasty dispensing with her to pick up any problem?
Me: Still Mum’s voice on the machine. Are you home? Are you going to call me back? Where is my father?
Me: Still the machine. Still Mum’s voice. Anyone, anyone, Mum?
Me: See above.
Me: See above.
Me: Ring the number.
Me: Where have you been?
Me: I’ve rung you about six times.
Mum: No, you haven’t.
Me: Have you listened to the answering machine?
Mum: Why would I listen to the answering machine?
Me: Because I’ve rung you about six times and you didn’t answer. Is Dad still breathing?
Mum: Let me look. There’s a rustling sound. Yes, his chest is moving. Why did you want to know that?
Me: Apart from the fact, he’s my father.
Mum: Yes, apart from that.
Me: It’s your voice on the answering machine.
Mum: No, it’s not.
Me: Yes, it is.
Mum: I would know.
Me: Apparently not.
Mum: Are you saying it’s not your father’s voice on the machine?
Me: That’s what I’m saying.
Mum: Well, whose voice is it?
Mum: No, it can’t be. It’s not. It’s always your fathers.
Me: It’s not. It’s yours.
Mum: It can’t possibly be my voice.
Me: And yet.
Mum: You’re making this up.
Me: Because I need the entertainment.
Mum: Something like that.
Me: I’ll hang up. Use your mobile and call the home phone.
Mum: That’s a bit tricky.
We accomplish this. Later, Dad tells me she rang the home phone but then answered it on the first ring without triggering the machine, a phone held to each ear. Wish I’d seen that.
Mum: Well, I don’t understand how that happened? Are you sure that’s my voice?
Me: A thousand percent. Hence me wondering if Dad was suddenly dead and this is the way you chose to break it to me.
Mum: It’s not a very good message is it?
Me: Not really.
Mum: I don’t know how it got there.
Me: You put it there.
Mum: I did not put it there. Your father must’ve put it there.
There is a loud masculine No.
Me: How could Dad put it there without you knowing?
Mum: He could.
Me: It’s your voice. You had to record that.
Mum: I really didn’t.
Me: Must’ve been aliens. They got in the house, held you captive and made you record bad answering machine messages and then left. It’s like alien abduction except they just wanted your voice.
Mum: Laughs. Oh, well, no one is dead and that phone has always been a bit stupid.
Roll over Adele, Mum is on the answering machine.