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Working Professionally with Children and Youth in Care
CYC-Online Issue 132 FEBRUARY 2010 / BACK
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Dial 1-800-big-butt

Nils Ling

If you have received a phone call from my butt in the last few weeks, I am sincerely sorry.

The other day, my daughter phoned. I answered pleasantly, and she barked at me down the line.

“What???” she said.

I was baffled. “What what?”

“What do you want?”

More bafflement. “Uh ...youcalled me.”

“No. Youcalledme. Four times in the last hour. And every time I answer, you don’t say anything.”

Now, sure, as we get older, our memories fade a bit. But I was pretty sure I would have remembered calling my daughter four times in the previous hour. And I told her so.

I could almost hear her eyes rolling at the other end of the line. “Where is your cell phone?” she asked.

“Where it always is. In my vest pocket.” I patted the pocket on the side of my vest to make sure nobody had stolen it. It was there.

“You’re wearing your vest, aren’t you?” (I was.) “And when you sit down, do you sometimes sit on that pocket?” (I do – my vest sometimes gets caught under me.)

“Okay,” she said. “It wasn’t you calling. It wasyour big fat butt. When you sit on your phone, it presses the buttons.”

I took out my phone and looked at it. It’s a new phone, one of those phones that is much smarter than the person who owns it. It has speed dial, email, a camera, a web browser, text functions, GPS, an alarm clock, and many more features that you really need to be a 14-year-old to understand. I believe it may have been designed by the Swiss Army. All it lacks is a spoon and fork that flip out of the side, and for all I know it has those, too.

This phone is far more sophisticated than what I need, and I'll never figure out how everything works. But it is a gadget and it was offered to me, and since I possess testosterone (nature’s own magical IQ suppressor), I was powerless to refuse it.

While I am unable to puzzle out how to operate the phone, evidently my butt is all over it. In every way. When my daughter came over later and checked, we discovered that my butt had not only called her multiple times, it had called every other number on my speed dial list; had sent several emails; had calculated the tip on a restaurant bill of $8888; had provided me with detailed directions to Largo, Florida; and had taken a LOT of self-portraits.

This cleared up a bit of a mystery.

My wife and I had gone to a play a week or so ago, and as I was entering the theatre, I conscientiously turned off my cell phone, because of all the things I don’t want to be in this life, I think “That idiot whose cell phone goes off at a live performance” is right at the top of the list.

We went in, sat down, and enjoyed the play. But of course, by the middle of the second act, you start to shift in your seat. Then, just as we got to the climax, the most critical moment in the play, some arrogant moron's cell phone began ringing. I knew it couldn’t be mine, because I had turned mine off, but it was somewhere around us. I could hear the other patrons doing what my wife and I were doing: making exasperated sounds at"whatever twit had been so self-centred as to not turn off “

And then it vibrated. In my pocket. I almost jumped out of my seat. It wasmycell phone. Iwas that idiot.

I surreptitiously slipped my hand into my pocket and stopped the ringing, and hoped it wouldn’t go off again. Fortunately, it didn’t. But I caught some dirty looks leaving the theatre.

I had been confounded by this, but now I knew how it happened: my butt had decided, all on its own, to turn on my phone. It didn’t care about embarrassing me. It was bored and sore from sitting and I guess it just wanted to surf the web or make a few calls.

So if you got a mysterious call from me in the past few weeks, I’m sorry. It’s not me calling. It is my butt. My daughter tried to teach me how to lock and unlock my keypad so it can’t happen, but I’m pretty sure my butt was listening.

For years, people have been calling me a smart-ass. Little did they know how close they were to the truth. I’m not sure if Iamone, but evidently Ihaveone.

Now, if it could only learn to shrink itself, we might be onto something.

This feature: From Nils Ling’s book Truths and Half Truths. A collection of some of his most memorable and hilarious columns.

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