Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Voicemail: Dating Torture Device

The gallows.  The firing squad.  Chinese water torture.  Mauled in the lion's pit.  The guillotine.  All horrible, torturous ways to die, usually a slow and painful death.  What's my personal most-hated flavor of extinction? Voicemail.

I absolutely loath and despise leaving voicemails, really in general, but most especially to people that I haven't known for at least five years.  Throw the life of a potential dating situation in the mix and I cannot muster up the words to do justice to how I feel about the whole voicemail experience:  despicable and evil are just two words that come to mind.

I know this is probably hard to believe considering my usual mastery of our language and my ability to think on my feet.  This whole thing sounds ridiculous coming from a Communications major who learned for four years how to express herself and communicate effectively in all forms of media.  But, voicemail is like some sick private version of public speaking.  No matter how much I think I'm prepared, I always end up wishing I could rewind, delete and start over. I can imagine the recipient on the other end playing it back for friends, at dinner parties full of adults who can speak properly in any situation, laughing over my sentence slop. I have four whole rings and at least twenty seconds to prepare for the dreaded beep.  By ring three, I can feel the ball of nerves growing like a Venus fly-trap in my gut, ready to ruthlessly devour any sensible or adult-type sentences that I intended to come out of my mouth.  But, in all fairness to my educated and usually expressive mind, through most of the ringing, I'm preparing for the Pick-Up.  If the person I'm attempting to reach actually answers the phone, I can't go with a brief, "Hey! Thought I'd try to catch you!" style conversation.  You know, because I caught them.  I have to have more going for me than a clever way to say that I'm not (admitting to) sitting by the phone tonight  but would really appreciate it if they called me back. 

After I leave the voicemail and quickly hang up, I start second guessing myself.  Did I say my name?  Did I say their name?  Did I say the right name?  Did I sound too eager?  Did I sound too nonchalant?  Wait...did I repeat myself? Does "Call me tomorrow at this specified time" sound too demanding? Am I neurotic? Should I call back and leave another one? If I had stayed on the line, would it have let me review and resend? What phone carrier offers that service? Should I just calm down? YES! The answer is very obviously yes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm never this overly critical of voicemails that I receive.  You could literally be a blumbering idiot on my voicemail, and I'd probably chuckle, think it was cute and call you back immediately.  I love getting voicemails, although I check them pretty infrequently (so bare that in mind), to no one's discredit, I think it's a remnant from my days as a prepaid wireless customer (yeah, voicemail minutes counted too!). 

"My name is Chris Hanson..."
My voicemail go-to space-filler is "uh, yeah, soooo..."  Like I'm a 15 year old blonde from the Valley who only talks between chews of my Bubble Yum.  Sitting in my car in my cheerleading uniform.  Painting my nails.  It's that bad, people.  And I get horrible boy-voice.  You all know what boy-voice is, right?  My sisters have always told me that they can immediately tell when I'm on the phone with a member of the opposite gender who I either like or am just not completely informal with yet because my voice gets this spirited upswing.   You've heard it before...those annoying, giggly, hair-twirling, gum-smacking women.  Urgh.  I hate it.  Why?  Why if I know I'm doing it do I continue to do it?  It's amazing that anyone ever calls me back.  Especially men.  I'd fear I had been lured into some kind of strange "To Catch a Predator" style documentary. 


  1. I love this post! It's so true for all women about the different voices. When my younger sister and I were younger we would always make fun of our older sister whenever she got on the phone (even with close friends) because she had the most syrupy, fake voice you have ever heard (still does). We used to call it "The Phone Voice"! It's always strange listening to your own voicemails for sure.

  2. I don't like talking on the phone either. I always feel so awkward and tongue-tied. Actually, a lot of guys apparently feel the same way because the ones I've dated send text messages. But I always liked the one who actually called better.

  3. @Neurotic...I'm a fan of the texting to a certain point. When it becomes the only form of communication, then I get frustrated. But, I do like that it gives you the opportunity to just "drop a line" without having to be a stalker and calling all the time. @Mary, so glad that I'm not the only one with Phone/Boy Voice! Sometimes I have Work Phone Voice too. I'm sure you heard it!

  4. I thought I was the only one who felt this way about voicemail! I hate leaving messages because I can never say exactly what I had wanted to say in a short amount of time and think I end up sounding so stupid. A lot of times I don't even leave messages for my close friends; they can see that I called, so it's pointless to leave a message anyway, right?

  5. I'm the same way! Caller ID has spared me countless voicemail nightmare situations!


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