I spent a great deal of time as a child watching soap operas. As the World Turns, Guiding Light, The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives… Like I said. A lot of time. And besides everyone drinking brandy out of a decanter—have you ever known anyone to own a decanter that they actually used in everyday life?—there was one quirk that really stuck with me:
Women would take off an earring to talk on the phone.
In my memory, I always see a brunette with giant, permed ’80s hair who swings it over one shoulder to free her ear. Jamming the phone between her shoulder and her head, she takes off an earring and switches the phone to her newly bared ear. Or maybe that’s how I remember seeing it because that’s what I would pretend to do.
Given any chance to speak on the phone, I would jam the receiver between my head and shoulder, say, “Hold on. I have to take off my earring,” dramatically unclip my imaginary clip-on (I do a similar thing with iPhone earbuds today), and swing the receiver to my now unaccessorized ear. “Sorry about that,” I’d chirp, recrossing my legs. If the conversation went on long enough (or even if it didn’t, because I was 5 or 6, and how much can a 5- or 6-year-old have to say to relatives on the phone?), I’d do the other ear, too. How I was able to speak originally with that earringed ear is unclear, but I guess I made it work.
I had a very full childhood, you see.