Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why I Carry A Tape Recorder (and not because I'm old)

You know that 1-800 customer service battle cry, “This message will be recorded for training purposes,” that causes you to pause, clear your throat, and edit the delivery you rehearsed prior to calling? The one that the FCC bleeped? Given that prompt, now you might start the call with, "Jane, is it? Yes, Jane, have you lost weight? Looking good!" The Kill Them With Kindness First approach I learned in a Southern Fried Manners class. Visibility of the Complimented One not necessary.

So if you are anything like me – one who takes several takes on recording my voicemail greeting (see voice, recorded, mistaken for 6 year old) - you think that, yes, this conversation will indeed be recorded and filed away for a rainy day – like maybe your FBI file – and therefore you pat a heaping lump of sugar in your tone…or maybe you sexercise your best Jessica Rabbit voice…and add a Honey Bear where you intended B*%$&?

You see, I don’t want traces of my mania archived for later use which is why I always self-edit at the battle cry prompt because 'where is my recording being saved' and 'will it resurface years later when I’m running for office'?

“Original Me would indeed make a good candidate for President of Put Gummy Bears on the Menu! Let me submit Exhibit A in which Acme Cable Co. recorded her voice for all posterity and what we have here is a genuine Sweet Cheeks Long in the Tooth. A vote for Original Me is a vote for Gummy Bears at our dinner table and a coveted spot on the USDA's Recommended Dietary Allowance! Respect for Gummy Bears! Here here!”

Which brings me to my next point.

When you go to therapy, the customer service battle cry is trumpeted yet again. But not necessarily voiced as a warning, such as, “Hey, do you mind if I write your whine down and can I illustrate it with mocking faces because ethics require me to be stone-faced and all ears and I NEED AN OUTLET TO ROLL MY EYES?” No, permission is not asked, fellow nutters. Also, instead of a voice recording, you might get the pen to paper type of recording, the Luddites “recording.” So, yeah, a paper trail now.

This one is the hardest Recorded Message battle cry to navigate. Not for the simple fact that you are being "recorded" (and not because your sticky sweet 6-year old voice can't be soundbit either). No, it's because, this "recording" is an interpretation of your message. The fierce scribbling that causes me to pause to let the pen keep up and attempt a "looking good, pen" half-ass compliment. It’s a judgy pen, you want to make sure it likes you. So the “fly on the wall” is now my record. My tears and self-loathing left behind on pages and pages of yellow lined legal pads in some office on 20th Street, the crumbs of the shit cookie I’ve been eating from for most of my life (as revealed to me in therapy). Unhappiness, my lot.

So my “recordings” in therapy, the notes about me, I like to think of as my Handbook. It's mysterious to me too. I would love to get my hands on my “handbook.” The bird’s eye view on my "message," self-edited or not. Aside from being littered with white splotches of bird shit (bird on high), there would be everything one would need to know to properly care for your Lara. (I would love to know too.) I might slide in flag stickers so that the student could flag those very important sections like the chapter on when and what to feed your Lara (it does involve a valley of potatoes, I know this much), the chapter on intimacy and your Lara (it does involve a Vincent Price cameo, don't read it alone), and the joy of shopping with your Lara (this is the positive and only self-satisfying arc in the Life and Times of...).

You see where I'm going with this? We should all come with a Handbook. An instruction manual, if you will. That thing you slide across the table to every new date. The "bird's eye view" always a more accurate description than any false advertisement the subject is going to peddle (see Handbook, chapter on why your Lara is cynical - I'll warn you - it's OED-sized). Because folks, there should be a consequence for everything you say and do on a date with your Lara and that lie or false advertisement should be archived somewhere (such as, Payback Land).
You don't have to be another "Can you believe this one?" barstool chat with my friends.

Which is why I now like to bring a tape recorder to dates and start the small talk rolling with, "Hi! I'm Lara and I am a Taurus. I love tomatoes and black-capped chickadees. This coversation will be recorded for all sisterhood!"

"Yes, I would like for you to speak in to the microphone for the remainder of the date."

Because men, you can be different. When you hear that battle cry, you can be the guy who pauses, clears his throat, and carefully chooses his words. I might suggest, "Darlin, where've you been my whole life? I've missed you." Or you can start smaller and work your way up if you're shy. But, now, because you are recorded, you will mean it.

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