Friday, March 20, 2009

Blah Blah

My wife has this habit, this annoying habit, of getting me to answer the phone for her when she's expecting a call from someone she doesn't want to speak with at the moment.

The caller is usually "AM," who likes to call my wife on her cellphone during her morning commute. Ending a conversation with her is like being trapped in a crushed automobile -- you keep hoping the jaws of life will arrive in the form of some major distraction, like a package delivery that needs a signature, or a vomiting dog, or a refreshing bit of burst plumbing spewing water all over the place.

And I perfectly understand my wife for not wanting to take the phone call. So I'll answer the phone and tell AM that my wife's not at home or that she's in the shower and then quickly say good-bye and hang up. That's not the annoying part.

Here's the annoying part. My wife then questions me about the phone call, even if she was standing there listening to my side of it, which consisted merely of, "Hello?... Oh hi, AM! ... Sorry, she's not at home now, but I'll tell her that you called have a great day bye." My wife wants a play-by-play. "What did she say? What did you tell her?"

First all all, when I talk on the phone and then hang up, I instantly forget the entire conversation. It's as if the act of placing the handset back on the hook flips over my mental Etch-a-Sketch.

So I tell my wife, "I said 'hello' and I said 'good-bye'. I probably exchanged some pleasantries in between, I imagine." Which must really annoy her. She has no idea about my mental Etch-a-Sketch. I can't even remember what I said, never mind about what the caller said.

But then my wife will want to know how AM seemed, as in her emotional state. "Was she upset? Did she seem tense? Tired? Frustrated?" For a 5 second phone call? Look, on us guys on Mars don't even speak that language.

So anyway, what got me thinking about this is Cheerful Monk's Whatever... post. I used to try to explain to my wife that I wasn't being rude to her but that I really couldn't recite the conversation back to her. But now I do the equivalent of answering "Noodle," which on some days is, "If you wanted to know what she said, you should've talked to her yourself." On other days it's just "Blah blah."


Anonymous said...

You are hilarious & I understand this whole concept. I want a subscription!
BTW I'm female- bikehikebabe.

Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk said...

Thanks for the link and for the great story.

I especially liked the lines "For a 5 second phone call? Look, us guys on Mars don't even speak that language." That sounds like a fun problem. Why not talk to your wife ahead of time and tell her you were born without the gene that detects other people's emotional states. So if you answer the phone she won't get any details. If need be have her put it in writing that she understands this. Then if she starts questioning you, you can just shrug and say, "It's hopeless. You're dealing with the emotionally clueless."

I used to have trouble with nonstop talkers, but I've gradually learned to extricate myself without being angry or rude. It took some practice but was well worth the effort. It sounds as if your wife could use some assertiveness training.

Again, thanks for the great post.

rummuser said...

Squarepeg, I simply lay the instrument on the table and vanish from the scene. Such talkers rarely notice. When I return, if she is still on line, I say sorry? and again vanish for a while.

I bleed for you.

Square Peg Guy said...

Hi bikehikebabe:

Thanks so much for the nice comments and for encouraging other Stress To Power readers to read me!

Square Peg Guy said...

Thank you so much, Jean! Actually, after 13 years of marriage, my wife no longer really expects me to recite a transcript of any calls. I drew on our early experiences for this post.

Square Peg Guy said...

Hi rummuser:

Your approach sounds worth trying. Dealing with AM in person, though, requires a squad of professional extricators.

Thanks for commenting!

Urban Panther said...

RE: when I talk on the phone and then hang up, I instantly forget the entire conversation

You mean it's not just a trait of the Lion's?! Is it possible to extrapolate this to all males?

I don't expect the Lion to tell me the details of phone calls, but there are generally important pieces of information I need to know. So, I have learned to ask him as soon as he hangs up the phone "Is there anything I need to know?" He then answers with a "Well, yes, (fill in very important fact)" But this literally must happen within nano-seconds of him hanging up, or it is all gone. Erased. Just like the Etch-a-Sketch.

Square Peg Guy said...

Hi Urban Panther:

The "need to know" question is a good one. I think I'd be able to answer it, even after hanging up the phone. But most likely I'd just repeat the information aloud so that my nearby skulking wife can hear it, and then let it evaporate like a thin film of Windex on a very hot windshield.

You are encouraged to extrapolate all you want! We are, after all, men, and no matter what you say about us, we don't listen to you! :)

Thanks for commenting!