The Ask Ray Hotline

Posted , by RAYMOND LESSERin Categories: Ray Lesser Editorialstagged: advice, communication, conversation, help, phone, technologyLeave a Comment
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Editor-in-chief Raymond Lesser

I’m standing on my head, in a slightly ecstatic meditative state, when my cell phone rings. Since I’m waiting to hear from my agent if my screenplay is being optioned, I race to answer it. The fact that I’ve been waiting to hear from my agent about my screenplay for the past five years does not deter my optimism, because I’m sure today must be the day.

“Hello, Dad? What side of the car is the gas tank on?”

“What? Where are you?”

“I’m just pulling into the gas station, and I want to know which side of the pumps I should drive up on.”

“Why don’t you get out of the car and look?”

“C’mon Dad, you know, just tell me.”

“It’s on the passenger side.”

“Ok, bye, bye then.”

“Wait, you’re going to put gas into my car?”

“Yeah, but don’t worry, I borrowed your credit card, too, so I’ll fill it up.”

Later in the morning, I’m in the middle of creating a new line of Politician Dolls who talk out of both sides of their mouths, as well as another orifice, when my phone vibrates in my pocket with a text. I check and see this from my younger son: “Who was Prez before Eisenhower?”

I text back: “R U in class? Ask teacher.”

“Need for xtra cred. ASAP!”

Yes, I am a sap, but the morality of this isn’t worth thumb cramps to argue about. “Truman.”

My phone almost never rings unless it’s someone calling who wants something from me, or wants me to answer a question. It’s not friends offering to buy me dinner or take me out to ball games. It’s machines who want me to answer a survey, or bank telemarketers who want me to give them more of my money so they can charge new fees when I withdraw some from my account. Compared to most of the calls I get, the ones that just want an answer to a question are the nicest conversations I have.

My daughter calls from the West Coast while I’m driving. “What time is it?”

“My car clock says it’s 4 a.m., but I’ve never figured out how to set it. I think it’s actually 4 p.m.”

“Oh, good, so it’s not too late to call somebody on the East coast. I’ll call back later. Bye.”

I know all this probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to you. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either. But ever since I started using a cell phone and carrying it around with me everywhere I go, I have become a human hotline to my family and closest friends. They know I’m always available, and I’ll almost always answer, because I love them and worry about them, and mainly because I’m always waiting for my agent to call because I don’t want to miss my big chance. So I’m pretty much at their mercy.

“Ray? It’s your cousin Bruce. Do you remember when we were in 10th grade and you had that girlfriend with the red hair? What kind of dog did she have?”

“Why do you want to know, Bruce?”

“Because I want to get a dog like that. What was her name again?”

“The girl or the dog?”

“Doesn’t really matter, what I really want to know is was it a purebred or a mutt? Because if it was a mutt, then I’m probably out of luck, but if it was a purebred, then I could get one just like her. Right?”

I’m on the roof cleaning out the gutters when my sister-in-law calls. “Could you tell me how Sue makes her macaroni and cheese recipe?”

“Why don’t you call her?”

“I tried, but her line is busy and I need to know right now — I’m going to a potluck. Can’t you go look it up for me?”

“What ingredient aren’t you sure about, the macaroni or the cheese?”

“Actually, what I need to know is the topping. Does she use breadcrumbs or cornflakes?”

“She always uses breadcrumbs.”

“Ok, great, I’ll use cornflakes, then. Because I don’t want to make it exactly the same as she does. Bye-bye.”

It’s 11 p.m. and I’m just drifting off when the phone rings next to my bed. “Dad, what year did Rocky Colavito lead the league in home runs?”

“Why don’t you Google it?”

“I did Google it. I just want to see if you know.”


“Thanks, Dad. You’ve been around a lot longer than Google, and you know way more about the important things that nobody else has a clue about.”

So that’s why the Ask Ray Hotline is manned 24/7. You never know when your answer might be the only one worth having. And you never know when you’ll get the question that makes all the difference in the world.

Posted , by RAYMOND LESSERin Categories: Ray Lesser Editorialstagged: advice, communication, conversation, help, phone, technologyLeave a Comment
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