Ending any relationship is difficult, but ending one that has lasted decades is gut-wrenching. Except for a necessary dalliance with a 225 area code number in Denham Springs during the Katrina diaspora and a compulsory, five-month stint with a Cox impostor when I returned to New Orleans in November 2005, my 504 Southern Bell number and I have shared the greater part of my adult life.
Fifty years of stability and fidelity—more than can be said of most relationships. But now, after all this time, we’re drifting apart. As in any failed relationship, the blame falls on both partners. I started spending more time with my cell, giving only her number to friends, putting only her number on my business cards. I had to. She was willing to go out with me. The Southern Bell was always tied to home. Plus, the perky little cell was more fun. She played games, showed me cute cat videos, made odd little sounds to remind me of appointments. The staid Southern Bell was a dark lump on the desk…blinking only if there was a message, giving the same harsh, annoying ring if someone called.
The cell is capricious, though. I can’t trust her. In some areas of the house, she’s likely to leave the person on the other end hanging mid-sentence or me babbling into thin air until I realize the connection has been dropped. My Southern Bell would never do that. Lately, however, I wonder about Miss Bell’s loyalty. Her caller I.D. often shows “Unknown Name” or “Private Number.” What is she hiding from me?
It will be hard to say good-bye, but I think we both know the time is coming. I rarely hold her anymore, and she hangs out with strangers. I’ll probably drag the relationship out for a few more months, but it won’t be too long before I cut the cord.