The period of ecstatic joy that accompanied the moment she first gave me her phone number has now emphatically passed.
Now I am beginning to realise what a curse it was. I had waited and wanted and wished for her number for months. I had blamed, berated and beaten myself for a coward for not simply asking for her number.
My friends told me: ‘Just tell her you enjoyed her company. Tell her you’d like to get to know her better. Just ask for her number.’
Then, one magical day when the spirit of a braver more self-confident me miraculously inhabited by body, I asked her.
She took a small notebook from her purse and a small enameled Biro, and she wrote her name and her phone number in neat, clear letters. She said Wednesday evenings were good for her and weekends. She smiled.
I didn’t call her straight away, the moment I got home. I wanted to of course, more than anything, but I didn’t. I wasn’t trying to play it cool, though a couple of times I tried to tell myself that I was. I didn’t call her because I was afraid she might have given me the wrong number.
When at last I did call, on the following Tuesday, she was out. I got her voice-mail and hung up immediately without leaving a message. Once again I was ecstatic, for a moment, she had given me her real phone number. Then, again I was seized by anxiety and self-doubt. Why hadn’t I left a message? What kind of an idiot would I look?
Then five minutes later, pretending I had not called previously, I called back and did leave a message. I said it was me and that I wondered if she had any plans for Wednesday.
I hung up, pleased with myself and more than a little relieved. But then five minutes after that I realised that I hadn’t given her my number. There was no way she could call me back.
Should I call again, affecting rueful amusement, and leave my number. No. That would take someone far more courageous than me.
Maybe she knew my number, maybe she had already asked someone else for it?
Now I had her phone number, I had called her, I had left a message and I was no better off than I had been before. Worse in fact, as I would now look an idiot whether I called her back or not.
I decide to call her back. The phone rings and immediately she answers it.
‘Oh’ I say.
‘Who is it?’
I say it’s me and that I am phoning her back because I realised I hadn’t left my number in case she was free Wednesday.
She says she’s glad I called. She says she is free Wednesday evening and that I can pick her up at 7:00pm. She hangs up.
I am beyond ecstatic I run around chasing my tail and chanting ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Until I realise I do not have her address.
Should I phone her back? I’m not going through that again. Maybe if I work my way through the phone book I can figure out her address from the phone number.
I can’t call her back again, not so soon. I am physically and emotionally exhausted as it is.
I start working my way through the phone book. It is amazing how many Johnson’s there are for such a small town.
After about half an hour the phone rings. I pick it up absentmindedly and say ‘Yep, Wha-Sup?’
It is her! I must sound like a complete bozo, no one says that kind of thing anymore.
‘Hi, she says, ‘just thought you’d need my address for tomorrow.’
I write down the address. I say ‘See you tomorrow then.’
‘Tru Dat’ she says with a little laugh and hangs up.