Sunday, August 27, 2006

anatomy of a phone call



“hello?”

the way her voice raises on octave at the end of the greeting? that’s a sign. the sign means, even though you’ve known her for roughly a year, your number isn’t in her phone.

“hey!”

have you noticed that people say hello twice? it makes sense if you don’t have caller i.d.—the first hello is an apprehensive salutation, meant to protect oneself and slightly threaten; we say hello, but what we mean is, “i have a dog and a gun, and one of them is trained to use the other. while riding a unicycle. over a path studded with bike horns. so that the last sounds you’ll ever hear are bike horns bleating out the tune of the national anthem and my dog barking with delight as he blasts away at your sorry ass.

“you won’t even get a chunk of the royalties when i’m on letterman.”

look, we took home security to a different place in my house, okay? we couldn’t afford an alarm; all we had were guns, dogs, a dream, and a lot of free time. but you know what they say: one man’s efforts to protect his home from intruders are another man’s reason to call the spca.

not that they were ever able to get into the house.

but i digress. the second hello, by contrast, is the genuine hello. it’s the one reserved for someone you know and like. cue the warmth:

“hi.”

i always start off so optimistic.

it’s refreshing to be let down immediately. what’s ironic is, i never see it coming, something it has in common with the women i’ve dated.

“what’s up?”

“not much.”

begin uncomfortable silence.










while we’re waiting for the uncomfortable silence to end, i’d like to comment briefly on this phrase, “not much.” when i am not up to much, i tend to describe it. “oh, nothing, i’m just checking my email,” or, “oh, not much, i’m just trying to figure out how to train my friend’s guinea pig to behave like a cat to try to fool his new landlord into allowing him to keep it as a pet,” and so on. the only time i say “not much” and leave it at that is when i am, in fact, up to something, and i don’t want you to know about it. naturally, i assumed that the same was true with her.

“well, i was going to the bookstore to do some writing, and i wanted to know if you wanted to get some coffee or something.”

“wow, vinnie, the bookstore? some friday night!”

okay, it wasn’t my ideal friday night, but the chain broke on the unicycle and the horns were all rusty, and besides, it had gotten increasingly difficult to lure unsuspecting hooligans into the house since the videos went viral.

“yeah, well, i have no friends.”

“you have friends.”

i do not have friends.

consider, for instance, the fact that i had to make this phone call. making the friday night social call is always a bust because my friends make plans without me. now, granted, i am something of an asshole, with a dog trained to shoot a firearm, but if you aren’t going to invite me to do things with you, have the decency to avoid insisting that we’re friends.

“yeah.”

what, like i’m supposed to say that to her? what will that get me, besides a sense of satisfaction and maybe some self-respect?

“well, i’m going out with some friends and i need to get ready.”

i refer you back to “not much,” above.

“oh, what are you going to do?”

“we’re going to go see snakes on a plane.

who would pay to see that movie?

“i so totally want to see that!”

me, that’s who.

“oh, well, i’ll let you know how it is.”

okay, when i tell you that i so totally want to see that, it’s a sign, and the sign means: i so totally want to see that! please include me in your plans, as i am going to a bookstore on a friday night to dwell on the fact that it is friday and i am in a bookstore. dwelling.

“oh, okay.”

“well, have a good night!”

“night.”

or, as it sounded in my head,

“fuck you.

“and your damn snakes on a plane.

Friday, August 11, 2006

invocation

dear friday,

please deliver me unto the loving embrace of my vices.

and for god's sake, please hurry.