My wife and I almost never had a second date.
Actually, our first date might not have been an actual date, but it did end with me getting her phone number with the expectation I would call.
And so, after a few days had passed and I hadn’t, she was a little miffed. In fact, I think she still is.
To be honest, I was very nervous about calling her, some of the reasons for which are another story altogether.
In any case when I finally did work up the nerve to dial her number, just when I was getting set to call, my mother called me.
Now I’m not certain, but I’ve heard other mothers like to do this too — call their kids and just chit chat. My mom always did — and still does — fill me in on the goings on in her office, happenings at church, small town gossip, and whatever else was on her mind, nevermind that by my senior year of college, I had been away from home long enough that I didn’t even know most of the people she mentioned.
But sometime during that phone conversation, my future wife (neither of us had any inkling of that at the time) decided that if I wasn’t going to call her, she was going to call me, which she did several times, getting a busy signal for who knows how long.
Keep in mind, there were many, many fewer options for electronic communication in 1995. Cell phones were not a thing, so sending a text wasn’t an option, either. Email was in its infancy. A few kids had dial-up modems and desktop computers in their dorm rooms, but their wasn’t much to dial up to. If I wanted to check for whatever early version of email was available, it meant going down to the computer lab — in an entirely different building — and logging on to a system called the VAX.
And I don’t remember if it was because I would’ve had to pay extra, or if it just wasn’t an option, but my dorm room phone didn’t have call waiting.
Eventually, my mom did run out of things to tell me about, and shortly after I hung up with her, the phone rang again. At that point, my clearly irritated future wife kept her message short and sweet: she was going out with her friends; was I coming, or what?
I distinctly remember the emphasis on “or what.” It was not really a question. But I’m glad she called, because I couldn’t imagine the past 21 years without her.
However, she has never bought the “my mom called” explanation. We’ve had some recent experiences that I thought would’ve at least led to a little bit of understanding, but apparently not.
My son, a high school freshman, was on the cross-country ski team this past season, and they had a number of overnight trips for meets. We send him with a cell phone, but he is not tethered to it like many of his peers. In fact, he hardly uses it, much to my wife’s chagrin. She wants to get an update from him every evening, and if he doesn’t call, she wants to have him answer when she calls him.
By the end of the season, he started leaving voice mails or text messages that said “I’m not dead. See you tomorrow.” Personally, I’m fine with that. I figure that if he calls and wants to spend time talking with us, something’s wrong.
Likewise, I’m happy to just get a phone call when the team bus gets back to the school. I don’t need constant position updates. In the 10 minutes it takes the kids to unload and put away their gear, I can be over to the school. It’s much easier than trying to time the arrival in Kenai when he calls from Sterling or Kasilof.
When I suggested to my wife not to worry so much, her response was that she is his mother, and she needs to hear from him.
But when I drew a parallel to our first phone conversation 21 years ago, I was immediately shut down.
Like I said, she’s still not buying it. Come to think of it, I don’t know if I ever actually called her to ask her out. After that second date (first date?) things just naturally took their course.
Maybe I should give her a call.
Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at email@example.com.