Volume 2, Number 11
Never, Ever, Under Any Circumstances, Leave a Message
Hello all and how are we this month? Yes, I know, pathetic and desperate as always. Don't you find it nice to have that consistency in your life, though? Isn't it great to realize that you never have to worry remembering anniversaries or, God help you, pleasing a woman? I'm sorry, that was just cruel, you don't deserve that. Lord knows you get enough abuse in your daily existence without me piling it on you. I am after all, here to help. With that in mind I want to jump right in to this month's topic. It's time we discussed phone etiquette for singles. Events in my own and my friends' lives lately have pointed out a real lack of knowledge on this subject.
OK, you moved, you mingled, you were on your game. Now you are standing in that smoky bar with her number in (or perhaps on) your hand. What happens now? You might think I am going to tell you how long you ought to wait to give her a call. Well, I am but not right now. Right now I have more important matters to attend to with you. Right now I am going to give you the single most critical rule you can have in these situations. Never, ever, under any circumstances, make your initial telephone contact via answering machine. Of all the mistakes you as a man can make (and let's be honest, you as a man are one big mistake waiting to happen) this is by far the absolute worst.
So you have a number. What does that really mean? It means that she is interested in you or it means that she was drunk out of her mind. What it doesn't mean is that you've hooked her. She is rising to the bait, but she isn't in the boat yet. So how do you reel her in? Simple, be yourself, but make sure you do it in person (on the phone). Call her up and have a nice leisurely talk with her about things she wants to talk about. Make it casual, don't go into your life story with her yet. If she isn't home hang up and try her later, but make sure you hear a live human voice before you speak into the phone.
Women will tell you that it doesn't matter. They will tell you that you leaving a message for them on their machine before you have actually talked doesn't affect their opinion of you. Women lie. Women hear a message from some guy that they have never talked to sober in their lives and they say to themselves, "That one is easily disposed of..." When a women gives you her number she is giving you the power to contact her. This is a pretty goodly chunk of power to have and yet it isn't really all that much at all. When she gives you that number she knows that there are still a million ways to never have to talk to you again. She knows that she is still in control of the situation. She knows that the only thing she has really given up is seven digits which can be changed with one quick phone call. As far as she's concerned she has just made a little to no risk investment. If you are Prince Charming (and of course you are you studly man you) she has not lost you. If you are the frog...well let's just say probably won't be around when you call.
From our perspective though, this is all we have going for us. This is the only card in our hand, the only spot on our dice, the only...never mind, you get the idea. By leaving that message on her machine you are throwing away the only bit of leverage you have. When you call and say "Hey it's me, give me a call", you are putting the ball firmly back in her court. Now, instead of figuring out a way to ditch that guy she met in a bar, a bar for god's sake, you are giving her a ready-made effortless one. I feel I should make a really important point here. If for some unknown reason you think that you know better than you're ol' uncle Skip, if for some inexplicable motive you must leave a message on her machine, by all that is holy, please, please, please do not use the answering machine to ask her out on a date. You scoff but this has actually happened to people I know. He should have just called and said, "Hi, I am a loser with an unhealthy fear of women, please don't ever call me back...oh, here's my number just in case you are a dominating psychopath who is looking for an emotional cripple to beat on for a month or so... call before eleven."
This brings us to a technical point, *69, the dreaded callback feature, and caller ID, the call screening nightmare. I had a friend who played it exactly right. He called, he got the machine, he hung up the phone. Seconds later, his phone rings, it's her roommate, she's *69'd him and he is screwed. Not only will her roommate now tell her he's called, she is going to make sure she knows he is the sort of lowlife swine that wouldn't leave a message (yes, he is still waiting for her to call). The only way around *69 is to use a payphone. I know that it's extreme but it's really your only option. I am not saying you should do this, I am merely giving you the option. Caller ID is easier to foil, just punch in the blocking code for your area (the phone company should have it) and you are the man of mystery. I highly recommend this simple feature.
So how long should you wait to call? Everyone has their own feelings on this issue. I have heard two days up to a week. I say call immediately after getting the number. Why torture yourself wondering if she gave you a bum number or not? (not that it has happened to any of you stallions reading this) Thank her, say goodnight, find a phone and dial away. She isn't home yet, you are calling from a payphone and you might get useful information from listening to her answering machine message (her name for instance). To top it all off, you can go through the next however many days you wait confident that when you do call there will be someone on the other end.
I hope the point has been made pretty clearly for you here, guys. Don't go running out to a woman you know and show her this column and ask her opinion. She will only tell you that I am way off base and probably have a deep seated hatred of women. In other words, she will lie to you. Remember it was a woman who told you that you didn't have to be rich, have a full head of hair, or be...ahem...well endowed in order to impress her. Which is why every underemployed, balding guy I know has to beat off the beautiful women with a club. Meanwhile the tall, good looking, rich guys are sitting at home reading this column.