Telefonomanías

By: Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring

Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring

The phone, what a doubt, is one of humanity’s greatest inventions. However, it appears that the headaches associated with the device, its use and misuse, and the world of essential communications, also have its history. Surely anyone will be portrayed in the stories that tell these lines. Many of the conditions may have changed (for example, it is now almost suicidal to “run machine”, as digital technology easily detects the calling number). However, replace that voice anonymity with that of a chat on the networks or a dating website and you’ll see that we haven’t changed much. While many are a foolish comfort, the saying goes, none of our phone complaints are new and others have suffered them before. For those who get upset with the current delays in texting, lack of coverage, busy phones, or fall victim to the delicious and terrible bureaucratic troche of the accounts, here goes this work, dated 1925.

[…]
The phone, in theory, is the means of communication, fast and effective, remotely, with other people. You must shorten and shorten time and places or contribute to the best development of business and social relations and save servants and messengers. But, from theory to practice, from the intention and purpose proposed by inventors and builders, what actually happens goes a big difference.
The first thing that is needed is for the phone to respond whenever it is needed and that when it is decomposed it is fixed immediately and both do not happen with much. And it turns out that the more urgent the call you want to make, the less the blissful sideboard works, and that you may tire one of notifying the company to fix your phone, and the days and even weeks go by without this happening; but, yes, at the end of the month they will pass the bill as if you had used your device for thirty days.
In addition, in Cuba, usually every subscriber and even their friends and acquaintances, are believed that the phone is the assets of them exclusively.
Girls and girls, when they have nothing to do – and this happens very often – they call their friends or their playmates or schoolmates to “talk a ratico”, a ratico that lasts two or three hours.
It’s classic because young boyfriends, in addition to going in the evenings, having entrance to the house and having “armchair” relationships, are phoned during the morning and day, ten or twelve times, from the office, from home, from some café or establishment. And it’s a good thing these calls were quick and short, but the current thing is that they last for hours.
The spinsters who, after entrusting themselves to St Anthony of Padua, lost hope of finding who bears them and takes them to the sacristy… or anywhere else, they use the phone as the only salvation jacket they have left. And using the ministry given to him by the automatics, they put themselves in love with friends or acquaintances and, as there are always fools and unemployed for everything, many men, believing that she is a “past female”, endure and follow the can to see what they catch; until, at last, they discover that, indeed, the woman is past, but it is… fashionable.
There are others who are dedicated to giving jokes, either to individuals or establishments, asking for orders or goods or messing with the families of their unhappy victims, insulting them or telling them heaviness; others call a house for hours and hours without answering who it is.
And how a person’s true moral background and education is revealed and discovered in these cases! Insurance of the anonymous, men who in society appear correct and fine, become rude, violent, ordinary; and girls and ladies, who believed models of delicacy and innocence, become poorly known and knowledgeable of the entire repertoire of thick, two-way words possessed by the most skilled roadman or inhabitant.

[…]
But the people who make it more difficult and make it almost impossible to use the normal, adequate, fast and effective use of the phone, apart from the abandonments and deficiencies of the company, are the friends, large and small, and the bride and groom.
[…]
As far as the phone is concerned, these are the ones that make it more difficult to function quickly, because you spend hours and hours of endless palique telling yourself all that series of love nonsense that if said face to face and, accompanied by gesture and action, are interesting and pleasant… (of course not!), said over the phone are unbearable.
It can be said, as an article of faith, that in the house where there are boyfriends it is useless to call on the phone, because 95 percent of the time this busy is found. Cut and don’t get in the way. Ω

Originally published in cartels magazine, Vol. 8, No. 48, p. 24, Havana, November 29, 1925.

Taken from Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring. Articles of customs, selection, compilation and notes by María Grant González and Karín Morejón Nellar, Havana, Editions La memoria, Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center and Editorial Boloña, Office of the City Historian, 2004.

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