I sat here trying to remember when I last spent time chatting with a friend on the phone until I realized ain’t nobody got time for that. The memory of my last lengthy phone call is not accessible. It’s been so long, I’ve no recall of it. Which brings me to my point.
I’m barreling toward my fifth decade, the one in which I hear you finally find your truest self and unabashedly come into your own. And I feel like I’m a bit ahead of the game in one respect: I’m acutely aware that I am not a fan of the phone call.
I don’t know precisely when or how my obsession over going voiceless came to be, I just know it most certainly did. Today, if you’re a friend of mine and you call me, I will feel stabby. And please, don’t think you can cheat the system by leaving a voicemail either. Especially the kind that simply intones, “Call me, I’ve got something to talk to you about.” Really? You don’t say? I gathered that all on my own. But what you didn’t indicate is what exactly you want to talk about. Stabbier still.
Having to call you back is akin to trying to cha-cha slide through a field of land mines. I’ve no idea what you’re going to spring on me and how I will react in real-time. I need time to absorb and process whatever it is you want to communicate to me. I then need to be able to consult with myself so the two of us can draft a proper, socially acceptable response.
I can’t do all of the above satisfactorily when I’m stabby. It’s quite possible I’ll slash you with some off-the-cuff, gruff negativity. Albeit unintentionally. Then I’ll turn the remorse side of the blade back on myself. I’m telling you if you call me, we might both get hurt. And it will be on you.
This PSA is getting a touch dark. Let’s turn our frowns upside down. We can avoid all this, my friend. Help me help you. Just text me or email me. This technology exists for a reason. To keep me sane. Heck. You can even knock yourself out and record a quick video to send my way so you can actually still talk to me if doing so is a deep-seated need for you. Just make sure the approved method of communication you choose is replete with the expectation of a response in the near future and not in real-time. It’ll be so much better for us both that way.
For gone are the days when I was holed up in the house for 14 hours a day with my kids and I relished gabbing on the phone whilst ignoring them. Those phone calls I needed. They were a lifeline. They distracted. Replenished. Stimulated. Provided a tether to the outside world. Built our friendship, even. Those phone calls were lovely.
I’ve had enough distraction, connection, and stimulation to last me a lifetime now, it would seem. Somewhere between here and there my ability and desire to track with you on the phone was lost. And promises never to be found. If you need someone to lend you an ear on the phone, I’m not your gal. But best of luck to you in your search. I truly hope you’ll find a friend who will meet that need for you. (But also, you should know there are no friends who will meet this need for you.)
But, love, please know it’s not at all you. I offer as proof the things I WILL do for you. And happily. I will take you to the airport. Pick you up, too. I will run an errand for you. I will watch your kids. I will accompany you to a happy hour or a movie. I’ll take a trip with you. I’ll have coffee or go for a hike. I’ll teach you my new favorite board game. I’ll watch football with you.
I’ll email back and forth with you well into the next century. Text, too. I’ll meet you at the hospital or visit you there. I will cut anyone who messes with you. I’ll encourage you and hold you accountable. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and loads of grace. I will forgive you. I will mark occasions with you.
I will listen to you until the stars come out or the sun comes up if I can see the white of your eyes. I’ll share my clothes and my favorite books. I’ll dance with you until we’re dripping in sweat and fully out of breath. I’ll tell you how amazing and gifted you are. I’ll champion your causes with you. I’ll love your kids like they’re my own.
I’ll think of you fondly every minute we’re not together and lovingly look forward to the next time we will be. But I won’t tell you any of this over the phone. And not because I don’t love you fiercely. Not because I don’t think you’re beautiful inside and out. Not because I don’t value the gift of your friendship immensely.
It’s just because I can’t stand talking on the phone.