I have a free hour and decide to catch up with a coupla folks I know and love, relatives and friends I haven't spoken to in way too long. Most of them are not available when I call, so I leave messages; some try to call back but the phone (not me, for a change)is busy....
I dial D's number, feeling quite guilty. I had received an email at least a month ago that she'd had surgery and people were organizing to bring her food and help out with whatever she needed. I made a mental note to call, visit, whatever -- but promptly lost it. So, I call her cell phone, hoping she's out and about and better than ever.
A man answers. "Johnny?" I ask, although it sure doesn't sound like her son.
"No. Bob," the man responds.
My mind bobs around. Is this a new boyfriend or -- oh, my G-d! -- she's had to hire help or the relatives have come in to take care of her or...
"Can D come to the phone?" I cry. "Is she okay?"
"I don't know," Bob says. "There's nobody here by that name....But I like your voice!"
I'm flustered and surprised. I guffaw and guffive, apologize for dialing the wrong number, hang up, and call the right one.
It's not the first time I've been told that I give good phone.
Years ago, while working for a magazine distributor, I'd talk with a Wisconsin-based publisher several times a month. In my mind's eye, I envisioned him as a handsome hunk.
My mind's eye has always needed glasses.
When the publisher eventually came to a meeting with me in New York City (business only, I assure you), the result was what usually happens when starry imagination clashes with stark reality.
We looked at each other and actually laughed.
"I thought you'd be tall and blond," I said. "And gorgeous," I didn't say.
"I thought YOU'd be tall and blond!" he said. "And gorgeous,' he didn't say.
We were both short, dark, bespectacled, and not quite as good looking (by a long shot) as our voices had made us out to be.
These days my (temporarily) husky voice is obviously sending out a garbled message about what I look like. Like Bob, other men seem quite pleased to hear from me. A police-officer colleague has told me that I'd be able to earn a nice living by working certain phonelines at night -- a possibility, perhaps, if I should lose my day job.
I think I did Bob a great favor by hastily hanging up the phone on him; in his mind's eye, the woman who called him can be anyone he wants her to be. His dream- woman: a tall, willowy blond? A buxom brunette? A randy redhead? Whatever! I allowed him to keep his fantasy alive. And because he'll never meet me, he won't even know how badly he needs glasses.