I’ve been trying to connect with a friend who moved away and chat with her on the phone. This is complicated by a number of factors: 1) After narrating all day, it’s hard to talk on the phone. My brain and mouth just don’t want to do it. 2) It’s hard to talk on the phone when you have small children because as soon as you’re on the phone and they see it, they’ll want something and/or light something on fire. AND 3) I have phone anxiety.
I pretty much think of the phone as evil, like this:
Basically, the real reason is #3. I have phone anxiety. I’m phone-incompetent. I’m basically on the Autistic scale when it comes to the phone. I’m half-joking half-serious there. When I’m on the phone, I’m at a loss. I can’t read someone’s body language, I can’t interrupt naturally, and pauses feel like a little-death. I feel lost on the phone. Like that dude in the Twilight Zone who woke up and everyone was speaking a different language. This problem started early with me.
The first crush I had happened in 6th grade. There were two kids whose moms picked them up really late after school: me and Little Bob. (There was also a Big Bob in our class because he was big. I didn’t have a crush on him.) So, after Little Bob and I were the only ones left on the playground, we’d talk about general stuff, mostly because Little Bob could no longer ignore me. I got his number. I liked him so I started calling him. I called him a lot. Our conversations always went the same way:
Hi, is this Little Bob?
Hi! It’s Tanya!
Well, I have to go now.
Okay! I’ll call again tomorrow!
Then in high school there was a boy that I’d talk to, but I was so worried that my parents were listening that I tried to talk in code until the boy I was talking to thought I hated him and never wanted to speak to him again. (I had tried a code of speaking in opposites so when I said “You’re the ugliest human being ever!” I was really saying “Please take my virginity”. Guess I shoulda told him about the code language.)
Then, after college, I was working on a musical with a man and I’d call and his wife would answer the phone. I would be super professional and ask to speak with the man. Later he told me, “Tanya, my wife doesn’t like when you call. You never talk to her or ask how she is. She says you’re a little rude.” I didn’t understand because I didn’t really want to know how she was, I just wanted to talk about the musical.
It hasn’t gotten any better. I don’t use the phone to chat. I use the phone to schedule pap smears and play dates. Yep. That’s pretty much my life: pap smears and play dates. Even my sister laughs at me and says, “You know, Tanya, you’re the worst phone talker ever, but it’s okay because I’ll just talk and you can listen.”
It would take so much more pressure off of me if everyone on the other end of the phone knew this little trick: Just, talk to me. I’ll listen. And then I’ll send a follow up email that’s sensitive and caring.
But the phone makes me curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth until I feel comfort, which doesn’t come until I hang up.
So, see? I’m not rude, I’m just emotionally challenged on the phone. It’s just another one of my many quirks that I’ve come to terms with. I suck on the phone. I leave cupboard doors open. And I cry every time I watch a reality TV singing program. Every. Time.