Editor’s note: The following column originally appeared Sept. 9, 2007, in the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World.
I am leaving the world’s longest message in somebody’s voice mail.
“Hi. It’s me, calling you back. Obviously, right? Sorry I missed you. I was getting a haircut that was WAY overdue. Can you say ‘Rip van Winkle’? But I got your message and, yes, I am interested and would love to have her contact information. I’m not sure if I’ll get in touch right away, but at least I’ll have it. Just call me back or e-mail it to me, which might be best since, obviously, we’re having trouble connecting by phone. So, ‘Tag, you’re it!’ Ha, ha. OK, that’s all. I hope you’re doing well. Oh! And let me know when you want to have lunch again. This time, we ought to try that new place down by the ...”
BEEEEEEEP! I’m cut off once again.
My friends, family and associates are all-too familiar with my trademark long-winded messages. They laugh at me behind my back or, worse, hang up five seconds into my rambling soliloquies.
One day, a few years ago, I actually caught some of my co-workers listening to one of my wordy messages on speakerphone, laughing riotously. The emotional scars have yet to heal.
I have attempted to be concise. Really, I have. I’ve tried to be more like my husband, who calls me at work and, after listening to what he calls my “annoyingly long greeting,” says, “Call me when you get the chance.”
Seven words. Short, sweet and to the point.
But I can’t do that! Why? Because I am, by nature, a chatty gal. And, more importantly, I know that by the time the person calls me back, I will have completely forgotten why I called in the first place.
It’s bad enough when my son phones and says, “I didn’t have all day to listen to your message, mom. What did you want?”
“How the heck am I supposed to know?” I reply. “That was three hours ago! What do you take me for, a savant?”
Sometimes, it gets so bad, it takes two, three, even four messages to get my point across.
Message No. 1:
“Hi, it’s Cathy. I guess you’re not home, unless you’re screening your calls, which would offend me greatly. So don’t pick up now! I’d rather not know. OK, about the party. I managed to find out it starts at 7 without admitting I lost the invitation. So, I’ve RSVP’ed for myself but not for you, because I haven’t talked to you yet. Duh! If you want to go, I can drive, but I’ll probably have to leave early to pick up some friends at the airport unless I can get someone else to do that. But it will be Friday night and you know how that goes. If you want to drive yourself, she lives about ... ”
Message No. 2:
“Hey there. Me again. So what was I saying? Oh yeah, if you don’t want to ride with me, because of the airport thing — which is so inconvenient that I almost want to tell them to find someone else — the directions to the house are pretty easy. Although, I have to admit, I got really lost when I tried to find it at night. But I doubt it will be dark by 7, unless you’re running really late. Anyway, it’s about a mile past the city limits and you turn at that old graveyard where we got a flat tire that time. Was that you? I don’t remember. And I had to go to the bathroom so bad that I almost ... ”
Message No. 3:
“Hi. Sorry. So you turn at the graveyard. North, I think. Left, for sure. Then go about a half-mile to her house, which has two stone, or maybe they’re brick, pillars by the driveway. It’s steep and kind of scary when it snows. But what are the chances of snow in September, right? I told her I’d bring my famous guacamole dip, provided I find some ripe avocados. If not, I’m going to make that chicken-chutney-curry thing you like. So don’t make that. Oh, and let’s chip in on a gift, want to? I can run down and get that lotion she likes, except I think it might have given her a rash so ...”
Message No. 4:
“Call me when you get the chance.”