Phone Phobia Makes Me a Bad Friend.

Gollum Smeagol stuffed animal Lord of the Rinds Hobbit
Filthy, fat, Hobbitses, not coming to
my Precious's surprise party.  
I should have been a hobbit.  Really.  Not like a J.R. Tolkien hobbit, but like the guys who disappear from society and live in the forest and commune with nature and never have to interact with human beings.  It's infinitely easier to explain to a tree why you missed its 127th birthday, then why you missed your buddy's Super Bowl party.  I like people (most of the time) and I like parties and events, I just find, that when push comes to shove, I'd rather be sitting at home in the comfort of my recliner than in someone else's metal folding chair.

Tampico flavored drinks in gallon containers 5 different flavors
Remember the Tampico challenge?  Drink a
whole gallon in an hour without throwing up. 
And that makes me a crappy friend.  I'm sorry guys.  I wish I was more comfortable at your parties milling around with people whom I've met before but don't remember their names.  I enjoy food, but not when I'm eating appetizers on flimsy paper plates while standing up, and hoping nobody will bump into me causing me to splatter my *Tampico drink all over their furniture.  This usually never happens.  But I fear it may, someday.  And this fear, of nearly total strangers talking about the weather, and of spilling high fructose corn syrupy drinks onto old furniture, keeps me from ever enjoying my time at your house.  It's probably a disorder. 

super comfortable pencil chair made out of pencils spiky uncomfortable
Dude, it's just a pencil chair, I don't
know what your problem is; it's
perfectly comfortable.  

Thankfully, I don't have any friends with the uber white carpeting, and next to nothing is permitted in their house; from shoes to children to pet hair from your home.  "Oh, sorry, Chris, could I have you use this pet lint brush before coming inside, I have a high intolerance to pet dander."  To which I wish I could respond: "oh yeah, sure, but I might warn you that I have a high intolerance to anal retentiveness, so you might just send me home right now."  I'm not even sure why neat freaks invite people over to their house, other than to make the rest of us feel worse about our messy situations.  I'm not sure those type people are any better at friendship than I am. 

As bad as I am at friendship, I'm trying to change.  I'm getting older and my active years are wasting away.  There will be a time when I might not be able to swing 18 holes of golf, or sit in an uncomfortable chair for longer than 20 minutes, and that scares me.  I don't want to be anti-social.  I don't want to be the old man sitting in my bark-o-lounger cussing at Judge Judy, and ignoring the doorbell.

Man asleep in a telephone booth cell phone sleeping bored on phone
"...and the neckline will swoop in
a V-neck, but not too revealing...
are you still there?  Oh, and the
moon is sooo large tonight, you
should check it out!"  
And I think I've discovered my problem.  I have a phone phobia.  I hate phones.  I hate my cell phone.  I hate the ringing and the talking and the thinking of things to say and the trying to end the call so I can get back to doing the nothing I was doing before the phone call started.  This is my issue, not yours.  Most of the time, the communication isn't that bad.  But after 10 minutes, I start to panic.  The phone drops from my ear.  I start talking into it like a microphone.  Or I lay on the couch with it placed on my forehead, while I zone out with simple answers like "Yep," or "Uh huh" and the other person realizes I suck and they end the call.

I've tracked down where this disorder originated.  It was high school.  It was talking to girlfriends with their never ending problems and emotional breakdowns, and constant needs for reassuring and complements; and the listening, oh god, how I tired of their blabbering.  I like talking, conversation, even arguing when it is needed, but pointless chit-chat about the day, the weather, homework you're working on, or what design you want your homecoming dress to look like? Make it stop.  I DON'T CARE!  But I did back then.  I wanted to be a good boyfriend.  I should've just said, "Uh, sounds like you have stuff to work out, give me a call when you want to make out or something..." But I wasn't that kind of guy, so I sat and listened, and the constant whining noise damaged me in my core.  And I learned to hate the phone.  I wonder how telemarketers remain sane?

Super large moon coming over hills yellow brown giant
"Okay, I'll look at the...Holy Moses, the Moon is invading our atmosphere!"
But those days are long gone.  My wife recognizes my hatred of the phone and she keeps our digital conversations to a bare minimum.  It's one of our love languages.  Phone limitation love.  My family, as well, jokes about my phone disorder.  I often hear comments like, "Well, I'm hanging up now, cause I can tell the phone is on your forehead."  Yeah it is.  Even though nobody is blathering away about mundane events that have no life bearing anymore, I still treat the phone like it is only one minute away from another conversation about how large the moon looks tonight, and that scares me.  I don't care how large the moon looks.  I care about real things.  And real conversations.  And they don't happen on the phone.  They happen in real life, except when real life is huge gatherings with partial strangers with *Sunny Delight drinks, and ten babies crying in the other room.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm ready to take a chance again.  Ready to take my cell phone off mute, and ready to actually dial numbers and make plans to actually hang out, and go to Barry Manilow concerts.  I don't want to be a hobbit or a couch curmudgeon.  I want to be a real person, with real friends, that hang out and eat and drink and be merry.  And that can't happen on the internet, or on the phone, or at huge social parties, but only one-on-one.  So give me a call.  Or I'll give you a call.  Just try and keep the conversation under 10 minutes as old habits die hard.  And hopefully, you can forgive me for being the social pariah I turned myself into, and I'll forgive you for spilling *Hi-C on my rug ten years ago, when I last had a party at my house. 

*All drink names have been changed to protect the identity of the innocent. 


  1. Wow! I know what blood that runs through your near sedentary veins. Some call it a curse some call it a preferred lifestyle but I call it The PlumbMaleSyndrome. Can be broken but you MUST take one day at a time.
    U Greg

  2. Are guys supposed to like talking on the phone?!

    1. Well, considering I use maybe 12 minutes of our shared cell phone plan minutes each month, it isn't that I don't like talking for long times, but more that I don't even like using it period. I don't call anyone. My wife makes all our plans. I am effectively subject to whatever plans she has set up. That needs to change. I would love to see the look on her face when I someday say, "Oh, Saterday? Can't do that. I made plans to go paintballing with the guys."

  3. I just got off the my cell after a conversation like the ones you describe. Had I been reclining on my futon instead of sitting up in a straight-backed chair in front of my computer, I just might have had my phone on my forehead ...

  4. Ha! This was really funny. I will for now on limit my conversation to, "Hi Chris, May I speak with Jill?" And I even promise to be silent while waiting for her.

  5. Christi, I can make it through two or three minutes of talking. I'm not inhuman. It's the post 8 minute barrier that gets me. If for some reason we ever talk longer than 8 minutes on the phone, I will let you know that my brain is shutting down.

  6. Thank you Chris for speaking up for those of us that HATE talking on the phone. I think I'd rather talk to guy who "spits while he talks" face to face than talk on the phone.

  7. Thanks for that blog. I wrote my own, "Confessions of a Phonophobiac" In it you will learn something about your genealogy and this syndrome you inherited.