i love the old rotary phones. That’s the kind of phone we had in the basement of my old house. I had to sneak down there because my father would invariably go into a rant when he discovered somebody was on the phone: “Who the hell is on the phone? Get off! I’m expecting a call.” My father never got calls, but our old rotary dial phone waited patiently in case he ever did.
Fear of my father’s wrath is probably the reason why I am not very good on the phone. Once I make a call, I’m quickly looking to end it. I am much better at texting and messaging through the PoF site. I was much better at note passing in grade and high school, rather than face to face talking. Invariably, I’d be left tongue-tied and crimson from embarrassment. If only romance consisted of nothing but the written word, I’d be a Romeo, a Lothario, a veritable Don Juan for the ages. Maybe not so much in the unscrupulous sense, but a serious seducer of women. Or not. I have been a one woman guy for most of my dating life.
Back to the old rotary dial phone, made of molded plastic and a handset attached to the body with a coiled, spring line that stretched for feet, so I could walk some of my anxiety away while talking. The best feature was the dial that you put the tip of your index finger into the hole of the corresponding number, swung the dial clockwise until it engaged, let go, and listened to it swing back. Seven digits put in and seven swing back. I never once dialed out of my area code while growing up. If I did it right, it could take minutes to dial a number. Letting go of the last digit and waiting for the girl’s phone to ring and be answered was the very definition nervous anticipation.
In many ways, online dating is perfect for me. I get to write to the woman for a while. If I could, I would let this go on for weeks. Let me discover you through words. Let me learn your politics, your religion, your hopes, dreams, disappointments. I want to know what movies you like and what music you played at 20 and if you still listen to it today. If you let me, I will discover those things that tickle you and turn you on. Given the chance, I will be your intimate friend before we ever say a spoken word to each other, much less meet. This pretty much never happens. Within a day or two of messaging, I tend to be asked, “Are we just going to be penpals or are we going to exchange numbers. And before you answer that, I don’t need a penpal.”
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