The phone rang last night at about 3:40, and I’m pretty sure Paul and I looked like synchronized swimmers:
Paul and me: *up on elbows*
Paul and me: *swiveling in confusion toward the alarm clock on Paul’s side table*
Paul and me: *swiveling now toward the phone on Swistle’s side table*
I’m so glad we got this new phone with multiple handsets. Not only has it relieved some of my Burglar Anxiety (I can now imagine calling 911 right away, instead of having to imagine the horrible “How do I get to the phone without the burglar seeing/stopping me?” and “Do I try to get to the phone or do I try to get to the kids?” parts of that scenario), but also, for a middle-of-the-night call I can answer it in two rings. Once, I missed a middle-of-the-night call because it took me one ring to wake up, one ring to realize what was happening, and two rings to get out of bed and run through the dark house to the kitchen. I then lay awake for probably an hour, wondering if I’d missed a Call of Distress or whatever. “If only you’d answered on the second ring, none of this would have happened. It’s a terrible, terrible shame.”
I reached for it with that Middle-of-the-Night Call feeling and the accompanying thoughts: “Am I about to take a call that will be PIVOTAL?” and “It’s not going to be GOOD news at this time of night.” But on the other hand, even Very Bad news can wait until morning if you’re not in the Very Innermost Circle. So when the phone rings at 3:40, I’m making a fast mental Very Innermost Circle list: I’d get a call if it were my mom or dad, or if it were my brother. Would there be a call in the middle of the night if it were my sister-in-law? my niece? my nephew? It would depend. Better include them in the anxiety. What else could it be? …Too late, out of fret time, already answering the phone. I said “Hello,” but it was just a dial tone.
I lay there for awhile experiencing the aftereffects. “We’re at that time of life now,” I told myself pointlessly. “And imagine in a few more years, when the phone rings in the middle of the night and I have to add the KIDS to my anxiety list.” Then I wondered if it had been a distress call, someone’s cell phone running out of batteries in the middle of it. But the list of people who would call us in the middle of the night for help is even shorter than the Very Innermost Circle list: my brother and sister-in-law would call someone more local; my parents are on a road trip. Man, what if something Very Bad happened to my parents on a road trip? I suppose they’d be hospitalized THERE, and we’d need to rush to their sides. Well, let’s not think about it now. A hospital would not have run out of cell phone batteries mid-call.
I made a Let’s Be Sensible Now list:
1. Wrong number
2. Phone company thing
3. Butt dial
4. Someone up with a baby in the middle of the night, child hit call button
And then I did manage to go to sleep. It’s not that I thought the call REALLY WAS something, it’s that the call reminded me that it COULD BE something. That LOTS of people get calls in the middle of the night that ARE pivotal. It happens ALL THE TIME. It’s not a sleepy kind of thought.
In the morning I said with fake casualness to Paul, “I wonder what that call was?” Without even time for the question to have performed a turn-around in his brain, he said with equal fake casualness “Wrongnumber.” This told me several things:
1. He probably lay awake for awhile thinking, “Great, now she’s going to lie awake, and for the next few days she’s going to be all ‘LOTS of people get calls in the middle of the night that ARE pivotal’.”
2. He thought more about it in the shower. He thought to himself, “As soon as she wakes up, the very first thing she’ll want to talk about is that phone call. It was a WRONG NUMBER, that’s all.”