Pin-Up girls screaming at vintage phoneWe met in college and became friends but not the best of friends. Years later we reconnected over the loss of an infant. A condolence call was placed and so began a dialogue that has continued for twenty-six years, through landlines, portable phones with telescoping antennae, nascent car phones and BlackBerrys to our current smart phones. Neither one of us remembers much of the substance of that first conversation, but we do remember that we laughed.

Over the years the topics we have beaten to death could fill volumes but as we often acknowledge to each other, the highest and best use of our conversations would be to put people to sleep. If the CIA perchance tapped our phones, we offer our sincerest apologies to whomever had to do the listening. Our discussions were repetitive, grandiose, mundane and largely trite, but occasionally insightful. Most importantly we always made each other chuckle and those chats sometimes made the difference between losing our minds and hanging on by the slimmest of threads.

As our lives evolved so did our conversations.

Husbands Then

“Hubby is traveling this week. He’s going for three nights. I can’t do this by myself. I’m going to die.”

“Maybe if you hang on to his leg, he won’t go.”

“It’s worth a try.”

Husbands Now

“Hubby is traveling this week. Wooo hooo! He’s gone for three nights-YES.

“OMG-you’re sooooo lucky, no laundry, no meals, no snoring.

Children Then

“These little ‘angels’ don’t listen to a thing I tell them. I can’t take it.”

Children Now

“These big ‘angels’ don’t listen to a thing I tell them. I can’t take it.”

Fertility Then

“When are you going to start trying for number two?”


“Soon, I’m dying to have another one and I want them close in age.”

“What do you think the perfect age gap is?”

“Holy hell, hubby has the chicken pox and a fever, no baby this month.”

“Oy, sorry. There’s always next month.” 

Fertility Now

“I had a nightmare that I had a baby.”

“Oh my God, Nooooo. That’s not just a nightmare, that’s actually the scariest and worst thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Could you imagine?”

“NO, and please don’t make me try.”

Toys Then

“So excited, going to the toy store this weekend to pick up a plastic kitchen, plastic car, plastic slide, plastic activity garden, plastic pool, plastic basketball hoop, plastic workshop, beanie babies, Beyblades, video games, DVDs, Webkinz and maybe some Legos to keep the kids entertained. I hear there may be a snow day next week.”

“Nice. Let me know what you think of the activity garden. We’re thinking of getting one as soon as we can get the plastic play house and ride-on toys out of the family room.”

Toys Now

“So excited, getting a dumpster this weekend to get rid of all the crap we have accumulated because it no longer brings us joy.”

“I don’t understand that joy thing but I’m jealous. I can’t wait until we get our very own dumpster.”

Moving Then

“Our apartment is getting tight.”

“Where are you moving to? Westchester? Long Island? New Jersey?”

“Not sure. We’re going to look at all those places.”

“I guess we should pick the best spot for the kids.”

Moving Now

“I can’t take the cold anymore. I am afraid of falling on black ice.”

“Where are you moving to? Boca? Arizona? California?”

“Not sure. We’re going to look at all those places.”

“I guess we should try to find a place close to the kids.”

Sleep Then

“Baby kept me up last night. Slept for maybe a total of two hours. I’m so tired.”

“Same, he got up every hour on the hour. I won’t survive this.”

Sleep Now

“Sweated all night. Slept for maybe a total two hours. I’m soooooo tired.”

“Same. I thought the heat was on 110 degrees but I checked and it was at 62. I won’t survive this.”

School Then/First Child

“What do you need to get into the Ivy League?”

“Grades, scores and tons of extracurricular activities. You better get on it girlfriend.”

School Now/Third Child

“Have you figured out the new PSAT?”

“No, haven’t had a chance to look. He’ll figure it out. He can always get an online degree.”

Over the years, we’ve argued, we’ve agreed, and we’ve agreed to disagree. Now, as the substance of our chatter shifts to aging parents, parenting older children and an impending empty nest we realize that the thing that has always mattered most was not the topic, but the conversation.


Marlene Kern Fischer blogs at:

Helene Wingens blogs at:

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