Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dial Tone

Me: “Hi, Evan!”                                                    
Evan: “Hey.”
Me: “Evan, are you there?”
Evan: “Yeah.”
Me: “I’m so glad to hear your voice!”
Me: “Evan, are you still there?”
Evan: “Yup.”

And so forth. My telephone calls with my second-born since he’s left home have always had the pace and snap of a primitive communiqué from Alexander Graham Bell himself. In 10 minutes of painful repartee, I’ve usually been able to pry out the following information: he was alive, he was “good,” things at school were “good” aaaannd that’s about it. 

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Even as a toddler, Evan was a man of few words, usually letting Sheridan finish his sentences (which the gabby Sher was ever-eager to do). On the phone he was hopeless. When he’d finished speaking with my mom long-distance from Atlanta (and the phone had been passed along to chatty little Rose), he’d run off to play like a man sprung from prison. 

My favorite Evan telephone memory from school days was the time he had to call a (gasp) girl to get a missed homework assignment. She was not there, so he had to (even worse!) leave a voice mail message. As he finished, he slammed the phone back on the receiver, buried his face in his hands and yelled, “Idiot! I sounded like an IDIOT!” Needless to say, he never missed a homework assignment again. 

When he entered the Naval Academy, he had the perfect excuse not to call—during plebe summer, he basically wasn’t allowed to. They were able to make two calls, 3 minutes each. I imagine this suited my son down to the ground—by the time each member of our big family had said “hello” it was time to hang up. 

Now that he’s stationed in Hawaii, he is, shall we say, off the hook: none of us seem to be able to keep track of the 6 hour time difference. When I’m ready to talk, it is either 3 AM Honolulu time, or 2 PM, right in the middle of his workday. I’m assuming his infrequent calls are completely due to similar confusion on his part (right? Right?) When the submarine is underway, of course, no calls are even possible And even if he was a chatterbox, there’s a lot he is not permitted to divulge—including all details of the boat’s comings and goings (the when, the where—all off limits for discussion). No worries there; the Navy’s secrets are utterly safe with our boy. 

In person, Evan has vastly improved as a communicator, especially when the topics are music (especially new bands) and, of all things, cooking ( he’s a wonderful cook now, and we can actually converse for a long time about kitchen tips and tricks). And he’s always been a GREAT listener—quite a rarity in our yakkity-yakking house. 

I’m guessing Evan will probably remain a phonaphobe. We can live with that. But anytime he does call, we’ll always be all ears. 

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