I hate the phone. The phone surely hates me. It is the bane of all my relationships. Since this is a blame-seeking culture, I am placing the blame on the demise of any potential relationship on my lack of Phone Presence. I don't have it. In fact, the next time some guy asks me for my phone number, I am giving him a friend's number, so that she can mediate the Call That Will Inevitably Bust All Hope.
Seriously. Let's take a look at the facts. I have been accused of sounding aloof, indifferent, and even ditzy on the phone by many boyfriends. Definitely by every boy I have gone out with on more than three dates. Some just gave up after our First Phone Conversation. And then I had to do the pursuing and later they would confess their reason for never calling me back. The reasons are always of the same theme, "You just sounded disinterested."
Lest you think I am being overly sensitive, obsessive, and insecure, it turns out I do have a history of Bad Phone Presence. I can look back on every relationship, courtship, etc. and each First Phone Conversation has always been just - AWKWARD. For me. There might be several reasons for this.
First, I have never liked talking on the phone in the first place. Even with girlfriends. As a teenager, I never even wanted a phone in my room. When I did have a need for it, I would take the phone from my parents room that had a 50-yard extension cord and bring it into my room. Shut up. I'm old. We didn't have cordless phones back then. Why yes, I did walk uphill to school. Both ways.
Second, I am hard of hearing. I need to get that checked. (Wait. I am old. Is hearing the first to go? Or your bladder? Or is it your mind? I think I have proved my Crazy previously. Thankfully, I still have bladder control. Unless you make me laugh really hard, then forget that. So - old? Check then.) But I digress. I can read lips better than I can hear. I'm visual like that. So, the phone? I am always saying "what" into it. This also is why I almost never hear my cell phone ring. But now, I keep that on vibrate. I'm tactile also. But auditory - forget it. Too many rock concerts as a kid. And loud car radio playing. But I'll never learn.
Third, I am soft-spoken, for the most part. The flipside of not hearing? The other person can't hear me half the time either. They are always saying "what" too. So, a typical conversation with me might go like this:
Me: I bought some new shoes today.
You: You fought the Vishnu away?
Me: Where'd you get that?
You: What'd you say?
Me: What? When?
You: Just now.
Which brings me to my fourth problem. I bring up inane shit because I panic. First of all, anybody who knows me knows that I buy shoes ALL THE TIME. Ain't a news flash. But they know you so they think you have more substance than Shoe Buyer, Mistress of DSW. So they think you must be telling something newsworthy - like fighting Vishnu. Only, not. But what guy wants to hear that I bought new shoes today? I might mention it to fill in some empty space or the panic sets in and I might mention it at the most inopportune time, like he could be telling me that he just broke his foot and I'll think, foot = shoes = I bought some. Something in common! So I will blurt "I bought new shoes today!" Until he is like, "Gotta go!"
Fifth, I try too hard to be Cool Breezy Chick. "Oh, you are calling me back." "Great." "Whatever." "Whenever." "If you do you do, if you don't you don't." "I don't care." "Maybe, maybe not." "OK." "I might." "See ya!" Breezy turns into a fucking windstorm of Confusion. You see? It always ends up backfiring and I end up being aloof and uninteresting. Classic story of Girl sits by phone. Phone never rings. Girl ponders what went wrong. Cool Breezy Check morphs into Irate Insecure Freak.
Finally, First Phone Conversations demand my full, undivided attention. That means no noise or visual stimulus. I turn the TV off. I unplug the humming refrigerator. I shut the windows. I'll cut off the A/C. Muffle my cat. Sit in a corner and stare at a bare wall. You get the picture. Concentration. Right. I did say I can't hear. But really the undivided attention is necessary for me not to blurt out something stupid like, oh I don't know, say "I love you!" People, I have this unhealthy fear that I will blurt out "I love you" at the end of the call! See? I am a freak. Who does that? Nobody, right? But I am afraid I will be that person.
Or, can my Bad Phone Presence and the subsequent demise of any Second Phone Conversation be boiled down to Karmic Justice? For all the times I never call back boys I am not interested in. I have been smited for my bad ways.
So they never call back. Atleast not the ones that I want to call back. But the ones I don't care about? I am probably Cool Chick on the phone. Which brings me to today. The boring guy from coffee last week called and asked me out again. Unenlightened Me would just not return the call, thinking that is much nicer than calling him and telling him, "Thanks, but no thanks." But let's try to turn the karma around in my favor. I will call him back and politely decline. But only after I put my hearing aid in, clear my voice, and write a script. Maybe it will start with, "I bought new shoes today." And end with, "I love you." That should lose him over, right?