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Awkward Moments in Dating: The Initial Phone Call

April 3, 2019

(image via wikimedia)

The first phone call in a potential dating situation is uncomfortable, no matter which end of it you’re on.  If you are the one making that initial phone call, you’re expected to carry the conversation.  If you’re the recipient, you don’t control when the conversation takes place, and you don’t know who’s calling you when the phone rings.  At least, back in 1993, we didn’t.

We had answering machines back then, so we could use those to screen calls.  The answering machine gave more power to the phone call recipient.  The answering machine gave the recipient the option to turn down the phone call without uncertainty.  The answering machine was like the birth control pill of telecommunications.  It was liberating but without the societal destruction and… uh… okay, maybe that chain of thoughts is for another blog post.

I really wanted Kimberly to call (you can get more details of our first accidental meeting here).  Maybe I wanted too much for her to call.  There’s always that excitement at the beginning of the potential new relationship.  Maybe the new one will be better than the previous relationships (it usually won’t be).  There’s always some optimism and hope.  Despite what I’d told Suzanne, I was pretty sure Kimberly would call.  She hadn’t had that look of silent rejection in her eyes when she’d taken my card.  She hadn’t said, “I’ll call.”

Instead she’d said “You know this weird, right?”

Because of that honesty, I had a feeling she’d call, but I didn’t want to jinx it by saying that to Suzanne.  I didn’t even believe in jinxes, but I still didn’t want to say it out loud.  If I’d said Kimberly would call and Kimberly didn’t call, Suzanne could claim it was the jinx, and I didn’t want to give her the evidence to encourage irrational beliefs.  Suzanne even told me Kimberly would call, but she’s still say it was the jinx.

I had some topics of conversation ready just in case Kimberly decided to call me.  What happened with the guy who stood you up?  Suzanne is really just a friend, I promise.  Was my card too cheesy?  That restaurant where we met is really overrated.  Whenever she called, I knew, I’d be ready.

Since we had met on a Saturday night, I guessed that she’d call on Tuesday because three days was the acceptable number back then.  Women were taught that calling earlier made them look too eager and waiting longer showed disinterest.  It would be Tuesday.  And Tuesday after work, my phone rang.

When I heard Kimberly’s voice on the answering machine, I let her talk for a moment.   I didn’t want to pick up right away like a lonely guy, but I also didn’t want her hanging up. I really didn’t want to have to call her back because talking to her as the recipient would be easier than being the caller.  I did a quick series of jumping jacks while she talked to the machine, and then I yanked up the phone like I was just rushing in.

“Hey, Kimberly,” I said out of breath.  “Don’t hang up.”

“Jimmy?” she said.

“Yeah, I just got in,” I said.  My out-of-breath voice covered up any anxiety that might otherwise show through my speaking.

“What were you doing?”

“Running,” I said.  “I hate running,” I explained, just in case she thought I liked running.  “I try it every once in a while because everybody says it’s good for you.”

“You could try jogging,” Kimberly suggested.

“If I’d been jogging, I might have missed your call,” I said.

“Okay,” she said, but I could tell she didn’t understand what I’d meant.

“If I’d been jogging,” I clarified, “I would have been running more slowly, and I wouldn’t have gotten home in time to answer your phone call.”


“Then again, if I’d been sprinting, I could have answered before the machine got to it,” I said.

She was silent, and I knew I was overdoing it.  I didn’t sound nervous, but I was talking too quickly and spewing nonsense.  I had to slow down.

“Did you ever hear from the guy who stood you up?” I asked, slowing my speech.

“He said he was there.”

“But he wasn’t,” I said.  “You have witnesses.”

“He said he had a table but never saw me come in.”

I asked her some details about how the whole thing with Thomas had been arranged.  She said she’d met Thomas through newspaper personals and that the Saturday meeting had been their first actual outing.  Back in the 1990s, the personals were in the back sections of newspapers and were usually used to sell stuff or to get a job.  At the time, I knew about dating personals and had thought they were just one step above escort services.  But I didn’t get that escort vibe from Kimberly.

“You were looking for a relationship with a guy in the personals,” I said, just to make sure that we had the same goals.

She laughed and clarified which newspaper she had used, the city’s high class (in their own minds) monthly periodical.  She said to stay away from the daily papers.  She said that young professionals used the monthly, and that it was a great way to meet people.  Thomas had been the first guy to stand her up.

“You haven’t met any ogres yet?” I said.  Even back then, I was certain guys would lie in their profiles.  That’s not self-hating man-bashing because I knew women would do it too.

We’d been talking for a few minutes when I knew I’d have to take the next step.  Even though Kimberly had initiated the call, I’d need to ask her for the date.  That was the man’s responsibility (in a non-sexist way).  I knew it was time to ask because I wasn’t even paying attention to what Kimberly was saying.  She could have been talking about a death in the family or telling me she was physically attracted to Suzanne, and I would have completely missed it.

“So…” I said (this was before people started every sentence with so), as I took a breath. “Do you have any plans for the weekend?”

Just so you know, she didn’t have any plans, and we made arrangements for a date.  And I’ll get to that in the next episode.

To be continued in … Awkward Moments in Dating: The Cheapskate!

From → Dysfunctileaks

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