Was the balloon listening?
If you came here looking for an intelligent op ed piece, you’ve come to the wrong place. Leave now. You will not get any form of intelligence here. In fact, if the balloon that hovered over the US last week listened to phone calls I made, they intercepted a whole different kind of “intelligence.”
Think about that. If “they” were listening to your calls, what would they hear?
Years ago, a friend’s phone was tapped. This was before cellphones were everywhere, and we still used land lines. We were both probably 25-ish. She was married. I was in the dating pool. We talked all the time, and at some point, I realized I would hear strange clicks in the line. Or we would hear a click or two and the call would disconnect. One day, when I called her back after being disconnected, I said, “I think your phone is tapped. This doesn’t happen when I talk to anyone else.” Later, we discovered it was, indeed, tapped. This is when I tell you she had done nothing wrong. I had done nothing wrong. We were just stupid young women talking on a phone line that was tapped for another reason. After we realized it really had been tapped, we wondered aloud to each other, “Can you imagine the frivolous conversations they heard between us?” I still think about it and laugh. They heard me talk about guys I dated. Hopefully, they got a good laugh out of my dating stories, because they could generate some laughs, for sure. They likely heard me talk about going out at night. And they had to listen to endless tales of our work lives. I feel pretty sure the clicks and disconnections were when they hung up to put themselves out of the misery our inane conversations caused them.
However, those calls were undoubtedly more interesting than the phone conversations someone would hear if they listened in on my calls today. What might they hear?
- On the day I learned about the balloon, they would have heard me call the veterinarian office about our dog’s ear infection. They would have listened to me trying to describe the yuck that I saw and smelled in my dog’s ear. After about 30 seconds of listening to that call, they were likely gagging.
- Another day, they probably heard me talking with a friend about how we keep telling our college daughters to use the meal plans we have paid for. It’s a struggle. I would have been complaining about the fact that my daughter had a $63 restaurant charge on my credit card for dinner the night before. And that’s on top of the meal I have already paid for in her meal plan! Whoever was listening probably wanted to be my daughter at that point, because it seems she’s living in high cotton (while I’m eating at home every day). However, “they” probably heard me hang up and call my daughter again and remind her I can block her credit card if she keeps pulling that stunt.
- “They” would have listened to a silly call from my brother, who called to ask me how to say some things in Spanish. If they heard that call, they heard him butcher every Spanish word he tried to repeat. Trust me, it was painful.
- They could have listened to me on the phone with a friend, singing old TV theme songs. Yes, that really happened. TV show theme songs used to be good…think Gilligan’s Island, The Beverly Hillbillies, Facts of Life, The Brady Bunch, even The Flintstones. Oooh…and because I loved watching shows from before my time: The Patty Duke Show had a great theme song.
- At some point, I called our daughter at least three or four times to square away the details on an upcoming trip to Miami. I already had my ticket, but she’s flying from a different airport. I was purchasing her ticket, so I needed to make sure I booked flight times that would work for her. Once the tickets were booked, we discussed restaurant reservations. The daughter likely made fun of me at least five times during the call, because that’s what 19-yr-old daughters do, right?
- After that? A friend called to ask me if I knew where she could get a toenail fungus taken care of. Y’all know a toenail fungus is not easy to cure, right? Sure, you can buy that over-the-counter stuff, and it will improve the appearance, but it won’t cure it. You can take an oral prescription for three months, but it can cause liver damage. Nobody wants liver damage. I will tell you what I told my friend: there are podiatrists that treat it with lasers, and the $1300 treatment works. Don’t ask me how I know. One place to get the treatment is the Carolinas Laser Nail Center; make an appointment here.
- The friend whose phone was tapped 30 years ago called to tell me about another car mishap. She totaled a car a few weeks ago, and just got a new car. Less than a week after getting a new car, a buck…as in a big deer with antlers…ran into the driver’s side door of her car while she was driving down a city street! She said, “I mean, he ran right into my door! We were eyeball to eyeball!” Ugh. Talk about bad luck…
- Another morning, they might have heard me describing to my friend, Mary Ann, the scene at our house. One of our dogs had experienced some stomach issues during the night, and all three had somehow, managed to roll in it. They had all slept in a big crate together that night, and we still aren’t sure which one had stomach issues. When “they” heard me say one of our dogs had “exploded” overnight, they were probably really confused! I just don’t think it would translate well. “They” probably lost their appetites after listening to that call.
- On yet another call, they’d have heard me telling my friend, Kelli, about my husband’s DIY project that became my project. He was assembling a gardening table and asked for my help. Anyone who is married knows DIY projects are recipes for disaster. I knew Kelli would understand the pain I felt as I tried to “assist” my husband with that project.
- Sadly, “they”would have heard me talking with my daughter, who was sick last week. She called me upset after waking up with fever, and I rushed around getting everything I could think of to help her feel better…calling her repeatedly to ask about different things I thought she might need.
- On one phone call, I talked with a friend about Charlie’s Angels, the original show from the 1970s, starring Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett, and Kate Jackson…and later Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack, and Tanya Roberts. I actually saw Jaclyn Smith on the sidewalk in New York a few years ago and thought how my little girl self would have gone crazy! As we discussed all the angels, we wondered aloud if Shelley Hack was dead; she’s not. But she did star in some commercials for Charlie perfume back in the day, so of course, we sang the jingle, “There’s a fragrance that’s here today, and they call it…Charlie!” To see one of the commercials on YouTube, click here. That led us to the jingle on the commercials for Enjoli perfume (“I can bring home the bacon…”), which you can see here. It was a real trip down memory lane. And FYI: Tanya Roberts is the angel who is no longer with us; she passed in 2021.
- The only call that would have been a problem for “them” to hear was the one in which I made a hotel reservation on the phone and gave the hotel reservations rep my credit card number. I guess “they” could have gone on a shopping spree with my credit card. Praying I don’t start seeing charges from China.
Aside from that one call, my calls probably would make them think Americans are idiots. They would likely think we laugh a lot, because I laugh a lot. If nothing else, I hope “they” think I’m funny. And I hope “they” don’t use my credit card. I think it’s safe to say the wouldn’t get any national security secrets from my phone calls, but they would definitely get a snapshot of life in these United States. I hope they were entertained.