Butt-Dialed Blackmail

Butt-Dialed Blackmail

"So, who was telling all the dead baby jokes on the bus?"

locked cellphone.jpg

I asked my son this question and the look on his face was priceless. The
proverbial Deer in the headlights expression. My query received this
response, I'm sure, because he'd thought his mother had suddenly
developed over-the-top psychic skills: skills way more powerful than the
typical, run-of-the-mill all-knowing mom power of being able to say
without turning around, "Please don't drink orange juice right from the

You see, my son's phone had butt-dialed me (I love this term, which is new to me, yet it's a phenomenon I'm familiar with.) He'd unintentionally left me a twenty-minute voicemail, a recording of him and his friends on the bus on his way home from school. And of course I listened to all of it. Twice. It was a priceless insight into his private world. 

When I heard the first few seconds of the recording, I knew immediately what had happened, because my husband's cell phone used to do this all the time when he rode the El. I'd hear the loud background noise, then a CTA voice unclearly (natch) announcing, "Armitage," or some other stop. And when this happened, the children and I would circle around the phone in the kitchen and dutifully try to get his attention, to try to stop this atrocity, this violation of his privacy, by yelling as loud as we could, "Jeff. This is God. Bring your wife flowers." Of course it never worked, because inevitably he would sit on his phone again and shut it off before he heard us.

I didn't have the opportunity to shout at my son, because it was all a voicemail. But still, I thoroughly enjoyed messing with him later.

"I'm pretty sure the kid I heard swearing wasn't you," I said. (Pretty sure it was, actually.)

Not even when he had that 105 fever when he was three do I ever remember seeing him that pale.

At this point I had to tell him what had happened, that his phone had unintentionally dialed me and left a long and detailed insight into his school-bus-riding life. I also told him that, in the future he should really be careful, not about just butt-dialing, but about all of his life in general. He's growing up in a different age. Everything he says, all the dead-baby jokes, every foolish misstep could be recorded. Everything. Just look at what happened to Michael Phelps. Miley Cyrus. Need I go on?

It's a brave new world out there. I was able to make all my dumb teenage and college mistakes without the benefit of surreptitious recording devices and the Internet, Facebook and YouTube. My kids will not have that luxury. And as much as I would like to know the ending of what it was he says someone told them about taking steroids (this is where the voicemail recording finally cut-out), I have to say, there are just some things in the personal life of a mother's son that she just truly, honestly, doesn't want to know.

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