Monday, August 27, 2007

A Girl and her Phone[s]: A Sad Story

This is a sad story about a girl and a telephone and how she misused and abused it and how it eventually did her in.

Once upon a time there was a girl who had several telephones, none of which she liked to use. She simply didn't like to talk on the phone. This was rather curious seeing as she was intimately related to someone who had a telephone permanently attached to her ear. But perhaps the particular gene pool from which these two arose only allowed for one telephone person. Perhaps that was why the girl didn't like to talk on the phone.

Or perhaps it was that when she was a teenager, and harnessed all her courage to call a boy and ask him to a party, when she said, "Shelly (yes, that was his name), this is XY" and paused waiting for him to respond, "Hi XY," instead he said "So what." Perhaps she always hears "so what" when she announces her name to the person she's calling.

Too, this girl is a master at reading faces so as to move in sync with the mood of whoever she's with. This is a tactic that enables her to maintain seemingly precarious relationships. But the telephone does not allow for this mastery, and thus, she is awash in a sea of insecurity when she is on the phone with someone. Do they want to get off? Are they bored? Am I bothering them? Or, at times, My God, what does this person want from me? Is it too soon to say goodbye? Have I missed much of that program? The girl has a horror of evoking such thoughts in a person she's called, and thus, she calls few people.

In fact, she has a syllogism of sorts that rules her calling people. It is this: If X wanted to talk to me, X would call me. Since X hasn't called me, X doesn't want to talk to me. Since I don't want to talk to anyone who doesn't want to talk to me, I won't call X either.

This syllogism, while definitely not valid (or even really a syllogism) from a logician's point of view, is, the girl realizes, SICK from a psychotherapeutic point of view. Especially since the girl is hyperaware of who is and is not calling her. And what they are or are not saying, when they do or do not call her.

The girl is sick of herself and her telephone-phobia and is appealing to all and sundry for HHEEEEEEELLLLLPPPPPPPPPP!


  1. I, too, hate talking on the phone. Now that there's e-mail, I don't think I should ever have to place or take a phone call again. Unfortunately, most of the world disagrees with me on that point.

  2. I have always felt at a disadvantage talking on a phone. As a teenager I would rehearse every phone conversation, including as many variables as I could imagine. (I never imagined "so what.") Today I still can't pick up a phone without realizing I'm testing what I'll say.

    But at least with a phone you get more than the words. You can hear nuance. Without the other senses -- sight and hearing -- we are left with smilies to tell people we're kidding ;-)

    I think the perfect progression for communication would be an e-mail to set up the phone call that decides where to hold the face-to-face conversation. If it breaks down at any point, it just wasn't going to happen.

  3. I know a girl who feels the same. Every day for weeks she will tell herself "You need to call so-and-so," before she ever makes the call.

    exMr Stapler used to say that I was the only person he knew who said "Shit!" every single time the phone rang.

  4. Syllogisms are fine for diets but mostly useless in phone conversations. Perhaps you should go to the doctor and have your syllogism gland removed.

  5. average jane: Yes, yes, yes--I agree, but what is it with these people who haven't seen the light!

    john: it makes me feel somewhat better to think of you as a teenaged boy rehearsing your conversations. Should we ever meet, we will definitely make the arrangements on line.

    sueb0b: Mr. St. didn't know me, but I too say shit when the phone rings. And shit when it doesn't.

    queen: as an unrepentent philosophy major, I'm afraid my syllogism gland is too deep to be removed.

  6. I am almost alwyas "asleep" when the phone rings...and wondering why someone hasn't called at the same time...

  7. I think there are phone people and not-so-much-phone people. Those that pick up the phone to call and tell you of every new development in the day and those who would obviously rather speak face to face. Some are email people. I think that's the only reason we might get a "sense" that some are more happy when they hear our voice. Find out who the phone people are and you won't worry about disturbing them -unless they are like my married friends who can never seem to talk the husband's home.



So--whaddaya think?