Wednesday, April 7, 2010

He calls.

Sitting at my desk, working into overtime, coworkers slowly exiting the building, monitors turning black one by one, my phone rings.

I hear the soft growl in his voice, the undercurrent hum that indicates distress, exhaustion, or inebriation.

Sometimes that "or" is an "and".

Usually that "sometimes" is an "often".

So I close up early, making last minute adjustments before clicking files closed. Tap folders into uniformity on the surface of my desk, pens into straight lines, calculator gone home to roost in the right-hand drawer.

There's no longer the initial hardness in him, where I have to twist at impossible angles when I attempt to dive beneath his layers of defense. Each time we spoke, it took less and less time.

I told him he was like a feral cat, with me taking one step closer every day, making sure he was growing used to my presence, making sure he wouldn't bolt or scratch.

When he calls, his voice tinged with gravel tells me things I need to know. He calls, and simply dialing those numbers removes most of his bristles. Acrobatics on my part are no longer needed.

I open my car door, the phone wedged between my ear and my shoulder. Purse is tossed on the passenger seat, followed by a book and now-empty tupperware, vacated home of last night's leftovers.

On the freeway, his silence is enough to push me to ask him if he would like me to leave him be for the evening, or if there was something he wanted me to do.

"Talk," he says, "Just talk to me."

So I do.

Inane babblings, stories of no value, things that only my mother would be interested in fall out of my mouth. My weekend plans. Recent purchases. Delving into psychology of friends. Cat stories.

Yes, cat stories.

It isn't about the content.

Nearing ten o'clock, he called for connection, called for distraction, called for a voice with an easy monotone to help him achieve sleep. It wasn't about what I said.

And in the morning, he won't remember it.

In the morning, he'll look at his call log, see who he might have drunk-dialed, and groan and wonder what things I drew out of him that he never meant to tell me. Kick himself for being human, for having vulnerable moments, for allowing alcohol to weaken.

It's odd. Tipping a few (or several) back something associated with masculine behavior. Men drink. Men get drunk. It's "manly". It allows easy access to emotions, whether it's rage or depression, that some refuse to tap on during sobriety. It allows expression of feelings, albeit sloppily, that men normally would prevent themselves from putting forth. It's an excuse for violence, but it's also an excuse for tears.

In the morning, you can shrug it off. Blame it on the booze. Those emotions normally aren't there- the alcohol made me feel that way. You're still a man. And your friends understand.

I exited the freeway, checked for police outside of the station, and began describing the neighborhood. Just words. Picturing him sprawled out across a bed or leaning back in a chair, phone held to his ear by gravity, eyes closed, brain not registering the meanings of the sounds I was making, only that I was making them.

Parked behind my apartment, checked the mail, glanced at the bar across the street, still talking.

A pause, and he's waking up. I ask if he'd like me to continue talking, or if he's at the point where sleep is possible.

He tells me he's drifting off, and I tell him to go to bed.

Shifting the items in my arms, I dig my keys out of my pocket in front of my apartment door.

I barely hear him, his voice is so low, when he tells me he's sorry. He's sorry how things happened, sorry how complicated everything was, how complicated everything became.

I wish him a good night, and he's gone.

Just words. It's only the memory of them, how they made you feel, that gives them permanent value.


  1. It is funny because I just had a conversation with my "guy" whos condition was similar to the one discribed in your post and it went something like this,"I fuggin did some fuggin things been busy fuggin had to get things done its been fuggin crazy, made some fuggin money fuggin so tired and uhhh dunno uhhhh fuggin like stressful"....etc and I wondered why I was remaining on the phone and the worst part was that I called him. Not sure what that says about my judgment, lol, but I certianly wasnt exspecting him to talk like that. He drinks enough and often enough that his condition wasnt a suprise, but the friggin use of friggin was a little over the top. It is a shame that people dont remember their actions when the intoxication is over. Maybe it would affect the friggin repetition of it all.

  2. I used to drink to excess long in my past. I drank enough to put true alcoholics to shame and I was quite proud of the fact that I could drink my friends under the table as it were. In all my years of boozing it up I did find one immutable truth: I remembered it all the next day.
    Granted, there were bits and pieces of the night before I could not recall but I wouldn't have been able to recall them if I were sober either.
    Alcohol is a terrible excuse for "not remembering" simply because so many people think if you drink enough, you won't recall it the next day.
    There may be those who can't remember (or so they say) but I'll remain skeptical....

  3. what do you make of this? why did he call? i'm sure you have ideas. i can't decide whether it's a good thing or a bad thing.

  4. He called because she is his comfort zone because the. Alcohol level was such that his suBconsious was taking over like auto piolet

  5. Sorry, on blackberry, driving home from work can't see too. Well

  6. SweetMag,

    Driving and surfing the net? For shame!

    Fortunately for me, Roman isn't prone to fits of repetitive cussing- he gets creative in his swearing and descriptors. But he says he remembers talking to me. I'm wondering how much he actually remembers of the conversation, or if he just remembers having one.

    And, yeah, it was his subconscious taking over. As much as he hates to admit it, I'm sure.


    I'm glad you're not drinking to excess anymore. I've got many guy friends who like to try to "out drink" each other, which is entertaining, but I question some of their motives.

    I think some people really don't remember. I know, when I used to drink, I would remember everything afterwards, no excuses there.


    Fortunately (unfortunately?), it wasn't GV8 that called. The one who called, Roman, was seeking comfort, which I gave. It's a good sign, for him.

  7. Oopps! I may have the beginnings of an addiction to this blog. I have to admit that I look forward to your posts and also to the interaction that seems to be occuring in the comment section. I love that you join in to the conversation about the comments. I wish I could get that going in my blog but as of yet it has not occured. Thanks for letting me join in.*simle* I look forward to the next post as always, Sweet

  8. SweetMag,

    Uh oh, addictions are never good. I don't think there's any sort of medication for blog addiction though. Maybe a support group. ;)

    I'm digging the interaction, too. I like having conversations going, though I wish the commenters would interact with each other too. There's a lot of different viewpoints and so much information to be shared, I want to get as much as I can so I can understand myself and this world better.

    Really, though, I've had this blog for over a year now and conversation is really just starting to kick in. I should probably be more dedicated, but it's hard to get my schedule into any sort of routine.

    You're always more than welcome to join in. I'm glad you do.