Tiffany Hanford’s thumbs were still moving seconds after she accidentally dropped her cellphone while in the middle of a text argument with her boyfriend, Drew. She watched in mute horror as it crashed to the pavement three stories below.
If Tiffany had dropped it just two minutes earlier, it would have hit the carpet in Ted and Karen Hooperman’s apartment where she was baby-sitting and been fine. But the three-story fall from the back patio, where she had stepped out to get some fresh air midargument, meant it was smashed to proverbial smithereens.
The enormity of the situation hit her immediately. She had no phone. No texting. No calls. No Instagram. No Facebook. While she had insurance, she knew her mom would not allow her to get a third phone after breaking this one and dropping her first in the toilet.
Worse, she was now stuck baby-sitting with no connection to the outside world.
And then . . . there was Kevin.
Seven-year old Kevin Hooperman was a rambunctious handful. Tiffany would usually let him play video games or watch a movie for the entirety of her baby-sitting venture and go about her business on her phone.
However, the day before, Kevin had broken numerous house rules and lost his TV and video game privileges for two days. Kevin’s parents did not mess around discipline-wise and had locked the TV and game console away.
Even if they hadn’t, Tiffany knew she couldn’t have just defied their instructions and let her charge do what he wanted to and kept it their little secret. Kevin was a graduate of the Cindy Brady School of Horrible Secret Keepers.
While all those thoughts and more were going through her head (including the irony of losing her phone right when she was winning the argument with Drew), suddenly there was Kevin asking what happened and if they could have pizza for dinner and what they were gonna do and, and, and . . . .
Tiffany told him to be quiet with just a tad too much anger and he recoiled. She picked up the Hooperman’s old school landline phone (better get used to it, she thought) and using the (gasp!) phone book, found a pizzeria and ordered a pepperoni pie.
Tiffany sat silent in the recliner for a long while and Kevin sat across from her. Kevin was determined not to be ignored and kept making funny faces. Despite not wanting to be amused, Tiffany couldn’t help it and chortled when he upturned his nose and batted his eyelids.
“What do you want to do?” she asked.
“I want to learn how to play that,” Kevin said, pointing to a Scrabble game stacked with other games on a bookshelf.
Tiffany explained the basic rules, but soon they just made nonsense words for fun like CABBACHOOGLE and DWEEKIER.
The pizza came and they had a contest to see who could successfully catch a tossed piece of pepperoni in their mouth.
Kevin saw Tiffany’s art sketchbook sticking out of her backpack with the cover of a fairy riding a dragon and asked to look at it. His “oohs” and “ahhs” at each of her drawings made Tiffany smile. She then drew freehand likenesses of Captain America and the Hulk, which they colored with markers and displayed on the fridge.
They then played “I Spy” and a game that Tiffany used to play with her parents where they hid an object and as she searched for it, they said whether she was “hot” or “cold” depending on her proximity. Kevin giggled mightily as she shivered when he was cold and screamed hysterically that he was on the sun right before he found the hidden earring.
While using Kevin’s karaoke machine to sing spirited versions of Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars songs, the phone rang. It was Drew. He called to let Tiffany know he forgave her for starting the argument and for ignoring his texts for hours.
While Tiffany would later miss her phone terribly, at that moment she discovered that the percussive slamming of the receiver down onto the body of an old-school landline phone – including a slight ring at the moment of impact – was sooooooo satisfying.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org.