Sunday, June 23, 2002

The Phone Call

When I think about it, I owe a lot to the technology we call the telephone. For one thing, it's easier communicating to people. Instead of writing letters to people who live far away, all you need to do is call. When you're bored, all you need is to dial a few numbers to get in contact with a friend. And of course, let us consider the Internet. While there have been alternative ways to connect to it like cable or ISDN, one of the most common means in the Philippines is through the telephone.

I?ve probably made millions of phone calls in my life. A lot to friends, some to family, and on rare occasions, to crushes. What's so special about making a phone call? Well, talking to a person face to face is the most ideal scenario but sometimes far from practical. You can't very well go to a friend's house in the middle of the night unless they happen to live near your home. It's less expensive too. Writing them a letter, while has sentimental value, can be time consuming and you know there'll be a delay. Sure, you can send it to the post office today and he or she will only get to read it the next day at the earliest. What if you want to vent it out now and hear their reactions? Feedback is also in question as they might not answer back. Or perhaps not in time. Given that, email faces a similar problem. For one thing, you're not sure if they received your email given today's propensity for delays and errors. And while a letter has a distinct personality with the person's handwriting inscribed, emails tend to be bland with generic fonts and expressions. At least with a phone, you get to hear the person's voice and you feel their reactions to your statements.

I don't know if it's because I live the Philippines, raised in a conservative Filipino-Chinese family, the fact that I was bred at an all-boys school, I'm shy, or a combination of all these things that I always get nervous when calling up people of the opposite sex. It's easy when I have an excuse: I need to coordinate with her on a project, she told me to return her call, etc. However, there are times when I just want to talk. It's different when calling a guy friend. The one who answers it usually asks no questions aside from who's calling and hands it to the person I'm looking for. Girls, on the other hand, are a different matter. I always run the risk of talking to the girl's parents, some of which are highly paranoid. I have to explain myself as to why I'm calling and sometimes, they sermon me that it's already late in the evening for me to call.

Nothing could be worse though than calling my crush. No matter how many times I've done it before, my heart always pounds rapidly and I get restless. All these jumbled thoughts come into my mind and I become quite tense. And that's before I dial the numbers. Of course it only frustrates me if I finally dial the numbers and all I get is a busy dial tone. If that doesn't happen, I always count the number of times the phone rings before it is answered. If a male voice is on the other end, I get frantic and try to calm down. So far, there haven't been any father-caller interviews. It being a female voice doesn't help either. It might very well be my crush?s mother, or perhaps a pesky sibling. You never know the intrigues that you might unintentionally sow.

Being able to talk to my crush is only half the battle. Once she's on the line, I get excited and sometimes I forget what I mean to say. I mean to talk to her about one subject yet I end up mentioning another unrelated one. Sometimes, it doesn't even get that far. She tells me she's busy so I have to go through this entire ordeal a few hours later or maybe the next day. If that doesn't happen, I fear that she might not want to talk to me or I might bore her. Perhaps she's just humoring me. All these paranoid thoughts start to pop up.

As I said before, I might have called up my crush for the nth time and these things still happen. I still retain my fear and I always get nervous. Never mind the fact that the worst things have already happened to me: my crush has told me not to call, hung up on me, and from time to time, a harsh remark from the parents. Yet I still make the call as if it was my first one, with all its pros and cons.

You?d think that making a mundane thing as making phone calls would be easy for a guy like me. Just shows you how shy I can get. Makes you imagine how I manage to meet people.

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