Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

The Exclusive Phone Greeting

Back in the days when Lemon-B started getting calls from her friends, Fei and Quin made a unanimous decision to only keep one telephone line outlet in the house.  That was all they really needed because Fei and Quin each had their own cell phone for all the essential calls.  The family phone was chosen by Lemon-B and approved by Quin because it reminded her of Fei.  It also served as a reminder to her daughter that Daddy would be watching and listening. 

The phone was placed in the family room near the kitchen.  Quin and Fei agreed that limiting the physical distance of the land-wired hand-held phone was one of the most effective parenting methods to know what was happening in the lives of their children and the types of friends they were making.  Their intention was to eavesdrop on what their children were saying and with whom they were talking to; and it was to ensure their children had no chance of talking on the phone after bedtime.

Through her growing years, Lemon-B had repeatedly asked her parents to purchase a set of remote phone system.  She had tried to sweet talk her Dad, but Fei was pre-warned by his wife not to give in.  She then tried to reason with her mother, who understood her motives too well.   Lemon-B wanted to bring the handset to her room so she could talk in private with her friends well after bedtime.  At the age of eight, of course Quin had said ‘No, no!’

But that didn’t stop the munchkin from trying to outsmart her parents.  When she was 10, Lemon-B managed to find a super long extension cord when she went to a neighborhood garage sale with her grandparents.  She even managed to bargain the dollar item down to 10 cents with her adorable charm.   However, the item was confiscated within 2 days when Fei almost fell down the staircase in the middle of the night.  He was heading upstairs to the bedroom after returning from work when his feet got tangled over the unexpected long phone wire.  The next day, Lemon-B learned a valuable lesson from her Mommy.  ‘If you have to sneak around to do it, lie to cover it up, or delete it to avoid being seen, then you really shouldn’t be doing it.’

Over the course of the next 3 years, Lemon-B threw her parents the occasional pout and tantrum regarding the phone issue.  When she turned 13, she was offered a very old cell phone that was operated by a monthly phone card plan.  (The cell phone was from 1999, Lemon-B turned 13 in 2014.)  Her parents agreed to let her keep the gift as they figured it was time for the teenager to take on extra responsibilities in life.  Quin exercised her professional skills to have Lemon-B agree to use her monthly allowance to replenish the phone card.  In fact, Quin was very surprised phone cards were still available at that day and age.  But as Quin had predicted, their daughter would run out of phone usage within the first week of the month and she would once again succumb to using the home phone until she turned 16.  Of course, Fei was still insistent to wait until she turned 30.  Quin had to remind him to let go of Lemon-B’s umbilical cord.

Present Day 2020

After her seminar, Quin called home to check on their youngest son who was supposed to be at home by himself.  When the phone led her to the answering machine, she thought she had dialed the wrong number because it wasn’t the usual greeting recorded in Fei’s voice.  She had to look at her phone to confirm she had dialed the correct number.  That she did!  As she listened to the pre-recorded melody, she couldn’t help but chuckled at the memory of another similar phone greeting she heard from the past.

Instead of waiting for the beep, Quin decided to hang up and called her husband to inquire about the whereabouts of their youngest son.  Fei told her that Jeremy had called earlier to let him know he was heading to his buddy’s house for an hour to play computer games.  “He should be home now! He called 30 minutes ago to let me know he was home.”

Quin then proceeded to ask her husband about the greeting on their home phone.  “So what happened?  Are you trying to send a message to an old lover who has returned to haunt you?  Was there someone else besides Chin Chin that I didn’t know about?”  She teased.

Of course, Fei had no idea what his wife was talking about until she went on to tell him about that particular song Chin Chin had used years ago to send him a message about letting go and moving on.  Fei told Quin there was no way …ever… and he repeated…ever that he would record that song on their home answering machine or anywhere else for that matter.  He emphasized.  “I loathe that song!”

Upon hearing that, Quin laughed because she was imagining that menacing glare of his being transmitted through the phone line which might soon overheat her phone.  Shortly after their conversation ended, Fei dialed home to check on Jeremy but was also led to the answering machine.  He confirmed his wife didn’t dial the wrong number and it comforted him to know that Quin was not going crazy and hearing things in her head.  Indeed the recorded greeting was that dreaded song sung by Engelbert Hemperdinck. 

Puzzled about the pre-recorded phone greeting, and worried why Jeremy wasn’t picking up his calls, Fei left the office to make his way home.  He made it his goal to solve the mystery of the phone greeting before the sun was to set that same day.  

On his way home, he called Lemon-B.  She told him it was Jeremy who recorded the song but offered no further information.  However, she was in a hurry to get off the phone.  “Got to run, Dad!  Bye!”  The line was cut off, just like a snap of the fingers. 

When Fei reached the driveway of their house, he could see the television was on from the front window.  Upon entering the family room, he saw Jeremy sitting on the couch with a bowl of his favorite ice-cream watching his favorite program.

“Jeremy!  Did you just get home?”  Before Jeremy could respond, Fei came to the conclusion the answer to his question was negative.  So he continued his questioning.  “Why didn’t you answer the phone? Mom and I were trying to call you!”

“Huh?”  Puzzled by his father’s presence and questions, Jeremy swallowed his mouthful of ice-cream before answering.  “Oh, really?  I didn’t see any messages on the answering machine?”

“Well, messages are for when no one is home!”  Fei picked up the Bone Shape handset to make sure there was a dial tone.  “If you are home, you are supposed to answer the phone!”

“But you didn’t leave a message!”  Jeremy defended.  “Ka Jeh (Sister) said not to pick up the phone unless we know who is calling!”

Fei was about to respond with a reprimand but stopped to make sure he understood what his son was saying.  “What did Ka Jeh say?”

“Don’t pick up the phone unless we know who is calling!”  Jeremy told his Dad as a matter-of-factly.  Then he gave his Dad a sneaky smile.  “It’s to protect Goh Goh (Brother) from that crazy girl!”

It was Fei’s turn to react with a ‘HUH???’

As soon as Quin arrived home, before she had a chance to enter the house, Fei pulled her back into the garage to ask a very important question.  “Do you think Chin Chin told the kids about our past history?”

“I don’t believe so.”  Quin assured her husband.  “The children don’t know anything about Chin Chin’s past!  Why?”

Fei let out a breath of relief.  “How on Earth did they know about that song?”

Quin knew right away which song he was referring to.  She too was surprised.  “The kids recorded the song over your original greeting?”

“Yes!  Something about Josh avoiding calls from some girl.”  Fei then looked at Quin with suspicion.  “Who do you think gave them that idea?” 

Quin knew that look and gave him a gentle ‘out-of-my way’ push so she could enter the house.  “It was not me for sure!”  Her tone of voice told him this was not an urgent matter that he needed to pull her aside to discuss in private.  “Why don’t you use your interrogational skills on them?”

Following his wife into the house, he admitted humbly.  “I did.  It didn’t work.  I was only able to get Lemon-B to tell me it was Jeremy who recorded the song.  And Jeremy said he was told to do so by his sister and that he was not to pick up the phone unless they knew who was calling.  Josh had no idea about the phone recording or why Lemon-B chose that song.  He wouldn’t comment on which girl had been calling him.”

“Really?”  Quin sounded surprised and Fei thought she knew which girl Josh was referring to.  “There were no messages from her?”

“Well, Jeremy finally let out that there were 15 messages yesterday, all were deleted by Lemon-B.”  Fei told Quin and her eyes grew round and big.  “So he turned the phone ringer off today! That’s why he didn’t hear our calls.”

“Hmmmm...I would have pulled the line out completely!”  Quin gave Fei a raised eyebrow.  “I wonder what kind of messages she was leaving Josh that they had to resort to using that song?”

“That you would have to ask Lemon-B when she gets home!”  Fei directed.  “While you are at it, can you hypnotize her to see how she got that insane idea of using that song?”

“Are you saying Chin Chin was insane?”  Quin asked and immediately, Fei gave a loud affirmative answer which made Quin laughed.  “I will have to charge you by the hour for Lemon-B’s session!” 

“You can claim it from the insurance!”  Fei bantered back.

“No, I’ll invoice you because the practitioner cannot be a family member of the patient!”  Quin shot back.

“We can disown her first!”  Fei bantered back with a tease.

Conversation between Quin and Lemon-B

Mom: So B, I heard some girl left 15 messages for Josh yesterday?

Lemon-B: Yes, she is crazy!  She won’t leave Josh alone.  I can’t believe she called 15 times yesterday.  So glad she has stopped calling today.

Mom (Chuckled): Perhaps after listening to that song 15 times, she finally got the message. 

Lemon-B: I think she is coo-coo up hear.  (Made circular motions near her temple)  She even said God told her that she was to marry Josh.

Mom (Widened eyes): God told her?

Lemon-B: Yes, crazy right?

Mom: And what did Josh say?

Lemon-B: I told Josh to tell her that he did not hear any voices from God telling him to marry her.

Mom (Smiled at her daughter’s wits.) How did you get the idea to record that particular song?  

Lemon-B (Smiled cheekily): Do you remember that old cell phone I got for my birthday? 

Mom tried remembering back:  The one from Auntie Chin Chin?

Lemon-B: Yeah!  Simba thought I wanted to break up with him.  I didn’t know that song was the voicemail greeting until he told me.

Mom (Completely missed the last sentence): Break up?  You were only 13?  I didn’t know you two were dating back then!

Lemon-B (Smiled cheekily): Oh Mom, you’re not supposed to know everything! 

Mom gave Lemon-B a pointy eye for her sneakiness. 

Lemon-B made an expression with puppy eyes and two puffy cheeks. 

Mom thought about her three munchkins and how challenging yet rewarding the task of parenting was.  She finally let out a surrendering sigh.

Lemon-B (With delight): But the song worked!  Auntie Chin Chin must have had a stubborn boyfriend who wouldn’t leave her alone.  That was probably why she had that song recorded on her cell phone. 

Mom thought quietly to herself. Yes, he was as stubborn as a bull dog!