Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nine hints for limbo and surviving the wait

There’s a reason the first streamlined, easy-to-cradle-beneath-your-chin telephone was called a “princess” phone. It was designed to be talked on for hours in comfort — something little princes just don’t do. Sure, guys call their buddies, but let’s face it — they look like amateurs when it comes to the real phone talkers: girls. Girls grow up on the phone. So the day after a great date, the telephone in a girl’s room or house or apartment or car or office takes on a sort of golden glow. Women, if you’re not vigilant, the phone will take over your life. Don’t let it.
Assuming you’re waiting for this great guy you met to call you for date number two, don’t panic, don’t write him off, don’t obsess. Instead, follow these nine guidelines for handling the waiting period:
  1. Don’t stop showering. I know, I know — the phone could ring while you’re all sudsed up, and baths are quieter. But changes in lifestyle and hygiene don’t need to begin quite so early. There are answering machines and voice mail. People call back. Hygiene is more important. You never know — he could drop by.
  2. Don’t call the phone company. If you hear a dial tone, the phone is in perfect working order. Besides, the phone would be engaged while they checked the line anyway, and are you willing to take that risk?
  3. Don’t go shopping for new equipment. You don’t need a new phone, answering machine, beeper, doorbell, or e-mail server just because yours refuses to ring, beep, or announce, “You have mail!” Be patient.
  4. Don’t put yourself on house arrest. This is not the time to develop a deep and lasting friendship with the pizza delivery guy. Get out. Get air. The phone will be there when you get back.
  5. Don’t change your answering machine message. Your old voice sounded sexy enough. Detailing on tape exactly where you are and where you’ll be each day is an invitation to burglars, not daters.
  6. Stare at something else. A watched phone never rings.
  7. Stop watching the 24-hour news channel. If he really was abducted by an alien or caught in a 20-car pile-up, you’ll hear about it soon enough.
  8. Get a life. If you don’t have one already, now’s the time to live. Go to a museum, volunteer, enroll in NASCAR driving camp, whatever. Carry on with any version of existence other than an amoeba life form sitting by the phone.
  9. Don’t worry, be happy. Even if it’s your mom each time the phone rings, hey, at least it’s a human voice. Remember Dr. Joy’s prescription on dating: It’s one date. Take it easy. Nothing, besides nuclear holocaust, is the end of the world.
Remember, women crave intensity; men crave comfort. Carry that thought throughout your life and you’ll always understand why the other side behaves the way it does.

Testosterone versus Estrogen Central

Really, the biggest potential for post-date communication glitches involves time. Guy time and girl time, that is, baby. They’re not the same. Einstein was right. It’s all relative. Here’s what happens: You go out to a great dinner or a concert or the movies. You giggle, share popcorn. You both have a fabulous time. Sweetly kiss goodnight. Then he whispers, “I’ll call you soon.” Or she whispers the same. You both nod and head home. Now, she assumes that soon means on the cell phone on the way home, at a pay phone the next morning, or at the very latest, within the next two days. Soon to him means “if I have a minute in my busy schedule,” “when I get that new job,” “when I have my fall class schedule in order,” “when the football season is over.” Or soon can mean “never,” “if my mom pressures me,” or “if the Knicks are out of contention.” Problem city:
  • Female is hovering by the phone; male is flipping channels on the remote control.
  • If she calls right away (as she said she would), he thinks, “Whoa! She’s really into me. Sex city!” She’s really just saying, “I had a nice time and I’d like to see you again.”
  • If he calls when he gets around to it (as he said he would), she’s an ice queen because so much time has elapsed (a week, a month, a year, a decade). How dare he leave her hanging! Suddenly, she’s too busy to see him again, and the budding relationship blows sky-high. What’s wrong with this picture? In a word, the word soon.
Guys: Don’t say “soon” when you’re whispering in her ear or any other time. Girls: Don’t believe it if he should slip. (And your being vague doesn’t help much, either. Take it to the bank — he’ll expect a much longer passage of time than you, most likely.) If he does say, “I’ll call you soon,” try one of these responses:
  • “I’ll be out of town for a couple of days. Could you call me after that?” Even if you’re not leaving town, this blows that whole “waiting by the phone” thing right out of the water.
  • How ’bout I call you in a week or so?” Then be sure to add the reason (when finals are over, after work lets up, as soon as I accept the Nobel Prize) so that it doesn’t sound like a brush-off. Mark at least ten days to two weeks on your calendar and call him then.
  • “Instead of calling, let’s e-mail each other from work.” This narrows the call time to 9-to-5 and takes some of the intensity out of the exchange. E-mail is pretty public, so neither one of you can get too hot and heavy with the boss watching.
  • “What does soon mean to you?” Though this question may sound a bit overeager, asking for a definition is okay. Your date’s response tells you a lot about the future of this relationship. Whatever you hear, be calm; don’t panic or get hysterical.
If you’re a guy: Don’t wait quite as long as you ordinarily would. If you do intend to call her “soon,” you’ll score major Brownie points if you make it more sooner than later. Women eventually write off the guy who never calls, but they never forget the man who calls right away. If you’re a girl: Wait at least twice as long as you ordinarily would. Give the guy a break. When he does call, warm up that cold shoulder, or he’ll never call again. The appropriate response to a guy who calls a week after a great date is, “Hi. How are you?” — not “Hi. Who died?” He’ll be so pleased with you he just may call later that night for more of your tender, loving acceptance. Stay cool. Don’t notice. Life is long; phone calls can be short. The best way to avoid the whole call/don’t call scenario is to arrange date number two before date number one ends. Plan to get together again no sooner than a week, no later than two weeks. If your date doesn’t bring it up, you can. No gender rules here.

After the Perfect Date

After you’ve said goodnight and the ideal date has come to a close, both of you are high on life, awash in good feelings. You grin, sigh, kiss your dog on the top of his head, or nuzzle with your cat. If you’re a girl, you want to do what girls do — talk about it; you want to lie down on your dorm bed or curl up with the phone and tell a good friend every glorious detail. If you’re a guy, you feel all warm and fuzzy, too, but you probably carry those feelings more internally and quietly; you do your homework, turn on the TV, wash the car, read the paper, dribble a basketball, burp — your normal life stuff — all very satisfied that your date was a success. You don’t need to fret. You’ve won. Inside your heads, however, a lush fantasy is brewing. Or, I should say, two lush fantasies. One female, one male. This is where things can get a little sticky if you expect your date to have the very same vision that you do.