December 28, 2004

naked and streaking

I scroll through my cell phone and jot down the number on a yellow Post-It note. Cradling the receiver between my cheek and my shoulder, I punch in my access code and dial 9 – 1 – 7. Then I hang up. I do this twice. The third time being the charm, I dial, will the butterflies to stop their nauseating dance, and tap my fingers nervously on the desktop as the call connects and then rings.

I go through this
time I call him.

What if I have to leave a message? Well, then I wait for the beep, mumble something far, far less amusing than what I’d worked out in my interior monologue, hang up and in Chris Griffin-esque shame, hang my head and cry, “I’m so awkward!”

Then I wait, which is the most excruciating part of the whole experience. Time goes by – fifteen minutes, an hour. TWO ungodly hours, and no return phone call. Never mind the two-hour wait; after roughly nine and a half minutes, I’m nervous, pacing, clawing at the insides of my brain. Why doesn’t he call?

He’s changed his mind.
This is a clear signal of disinterest.
And, abhorrently – He’s just not that into me. (I’m throwing up in my mouth as I type that.)

It’s like all of my insecurities got naked and went streaking.

So when the phone rings sometime after ten o’clock (a good seven hours after that tragic, short-bus-special voicemail), I flip open the phone and brace myself for an ‘I need my space,” or a “maybe we should take things slower.”

“Hey! Sorry I missed your call earlier. My caller ID said, ‘Grace Work’ and I was working a double so I didn’t pick up.”

"Oh, that's okay."

We chat, he says he’ll call me when he gets up the next afternoon; I flip the phone closed and sigh.

“Told you.”
“Shut up.”
“Somebody sure did his best to ruin you for normal guys, huh?”
“I’m responsible for my own crazy.”

My brother and I chat about dating and calling. We arrive at the oh-so obvious conclusion that girls need to relax and guys need to call. Busy, schmusy. “Just call the girl. How hard is that?” We talk some more, and I get ready for bed. He climbs onto the couch. “I guess I should call Shannon... I’ll do that in the morning.”

Um, yeah.

(Editor's Note: Please refrain from the tired, obvious comments that I am neurotic. We already know this. We also know the word 'HYPERBOLE.' And if you do not, you may look it up here. Or you may take our word that it means, 'Exaggeration for effect.')

Posted by This Fish at December 28, 2004 10:31 AM

I can so relate! My last call with two hours and no return call from him was Christmas morning... and I was supposed to be going to meet him at his mother's house. Talk about sick to my stomach.

Posted by: gem at December 28, 2004 10:47 AM

hyberbole? maybe. neurotic? a little. true? totally.

Posted by: lissette at December 28, 2004 11:11 AM

Of course we can all relate. Hyperbole or not (and let me say, I am a fan of hyperbole), whether we're HJNTIY adherents or not (and it should be clear which camp I'm in), we have all waited nervously for calls from people who we think might be special.

Personally, I'd give anything to have someone interesting enough to provoke my stomach to butterflies and once again grant me this long-absent agita. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but enjoy the tension.

Posted by: Esther at December 28, 2004 11:48 AM

Some of your readers can't handle hyperbole, huh? I think you should hit 'em with a little reductio ad absurdum. That outta seperate the sharks from the chum.

The phone nervousness is part and parcel of the whole new relationship excitement. I suspect that physiologicaly it's no different than what happens during knee weakening kisses. Elevated heart rate and respiration, adrenalin coursing through the veins, it's all in how we interpret those sensations. One's to die for, the other is like dying. Crazy humans, sometimes I wonder if these swollen brains of ours are worth it.

Posted by: Coelecanth at December 28, 2004 12:10 PM

yeah -- can someone start teaching guys from the age of three that they have to call us once in a while?

Posted by: S at December 28, 2004 12:14 PM

the Family Guy reference more than makes up for any neurotic behavior. as usual, you rock, Fish.

Posted by: tk at December 28, 2004 12:29 PM

Yes, my thoughts exactly. I don't think it's just cultural conditioning that makes us women want men to call us, it's something else. I'd like to think it's common courtesy. Here's my take on the phenomenon. And yes, please gag me with a spoon the next time someone dares to utter that he's just not that into you. Empowering statement my ass.

Posted by: Amelie-Freak at December 28, 2004 12:47 PM

I'd looove to pretend I'm so above this. But why bother?

Posted by: Bond Girl at December 28, 2004 12:49 PM

hilarious. i think any girl can relate to this. we are spazzy about the calls, and boys just need to pick up the phone more often. it is not hard, and it only takes a 2 minute phone call to have our heads again floating in the clouds. :)

Posted by: red at December 28, 2004 01:19 PM

but if we called more often, it wouldn't seem as special. and then the problem would be, 'good god, why does this man keep bothering me?' and everyone would be like, 'i knoooow! can't guys just give it a rest? you like to talk on the phone! we get it already!'

Posted by: brando at December 28, 2004 01:31 PM

We're doomed.

Posted by: Robotnik at December 28, 2004 01:49 PM

Hyperbo ... Wha?

I'm glad you're neurotic. Neurotic people are so much more interesting to those of us who are just plain weird. (Shift gears) Trust me, the guy suffers from the same neuroses, he's just less willing to admit it. Thank GOD I'm married and no longer need to worry about dating neuroses. Instead, I worry about the whole new set of neuroses that comes with that territory.

Posted by: The other Fish at December 28, 2004 02:14 PM

Aah Fish, I love ya! I am neurotic right along with you ---extending not only to phone calls but also to e-mails. Why is it that guys also deem so many e-mails as "no response necessary". Drives me batty. Love to hear your take on that one.

Posted by: akaellen at December 28, 2004 02:20 PM

see, i think ima have to agree with brando on this one...if we dont call then it's like 'omg he's not callin, what's going, what's he doing'...but then when we do call it's all 'i need some space'...see i think secretly deep down, maybe waaaaaaaaay deep down, you like having the calls spaced out

but yes, sometimes it wouldnt hurt for the girl to just call back...i cant speak for all guys but i know i love it when a chick does the work sometimes =)

Posted by: amit at December 28, 2004 02:44 PM

I hate when it happens and it has happened to me with every single freaking call I made when I hit a digit to his (The Guy) phone number -- you know the one you think was only born to meet you to spend the rest of your lives together. That, or just come into your life for a reason and it's to teach you how a broken heart can kill you. But even with a broken heart, the butterflies still live there and your hands will always be retarded for that brief dialing. There is no such thing as exaggerating your feelings; they are feelings. That is the only way you can express them so other people can understand what's really going on inside you. Go with them and tell everyone to Fuck Off! Give this dude a chance.

Posted by: ChaFai at December 28, 2004 02:47 PM

fish, i think, contextually, you are (gasp!) normal!!!

Posted by: sassylittlepunkin at December 28, 2004 02:57 PM

Haven't you ladies seen "Swingers?" You know exactly what the rules are for calling you after obtaining your number.

Posted by: Robotnik at December 28, 2004 02:58 PM

Ah yes, hold onto it as though it's the Heisman? You know, let it sit there all pretty, status-like and dust collecting? lol

Posted by: Ari at December 28, 2004 04:08 PM

i know what you mean....i always almost have anxiety attacks waiting for a call...when will it end????

Posted by: al at December 28, 2004 05:47 PM

I have *horreur* of leaving voicemail messages. Love the scene in Swingers, but I do feel it's a rarity for guys to have their insecurities streak (aptly put, btw!) as such over a little thing like voicemail.

Posted by: Coquette at December 28, 2004 06:57 PM

Oh thank God for the "Editor's Note" ability. All women are neurotic and tend to exaggerate. We are just glad that you are putting it out there so the rest of us feel normal!

Posted by: Carrie at December 28, 2004 07:01 PM

He's just not that into you. Simple as that. Learn it, love it, live it.

Posted by: Steve at December 28, 2004 11:33 PM

When you get that feeling (and all women get that feeling), don't dial. Not calling feels so much better (like a small victory over insecurity) and he WILL call, eventually. Men aren't phone people. When they are phone people, we women tend not to find them as attractive.

Posted by: Katherine at December 29, 2004 05:28 AM

Oh, been there, bought the t-shirt. ; ) Good news is, after 5 months, he's still calling...

Posted by: erin at December 29, 2004 12:23 PM

Believe it or not, the same anxiety applies for guys, too. I'm such the basket case when it comes to the phone.

Posted by: Plantation at December 30, 2004 11:59 AM