As in love as I am with my new-ish Samsung Solstice, as great as it is to take photos, text at the speed of light, and show off my touch screen with accelerometer, my unbridled enthusiasm for my new-ish toy has absolutely nothing to do with its baseline function as a phone.  I hate phones.  More specifically, I hate talking on the phone.  My shared phonebill shows a disparate usage of our monthly minutes.  I use perhaps 100, and Mr. Apron perhaps 500.   I do not talk on the phone if I can help it.  I’m not sure when this began.  I can recall as a tween (before such designations existed), exhausting my list of friends by serial-dialing in hopes of a last-minute sleepover.  I can recall hours-long conversations, as expected, in my pubescent years, a la Babysitters Club, with my middle school best friends.

And then, something.  Nothing.  The phone somehow became a source of anxiety, of dread.  I once had a babysitting gig lined up, but I was so squeamish about calling the family, that when my brother said, “Oh, I’ll do it for you,” I actually let him.  “Hi.  I’m calling for my sister, who’s too scared to call you herself.”  Click.

My first days of work, in addition to reviewing files and signing away my life in triplicate on obtuse forms, I had to call all the families of my new kiddos to introduce myself and set up appointments at their schools, daycares, or homes.  I sat in my office and cried.  I called my husband and cried.  When I had finally taken care of all the kiddos, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried out of sheer relief.

My husband I can talk to.  I can call him.  This leads me to believe there’s more to my phobia than just the A.G. Bell device.  It’s more about the vulnerability that a phonecall opens me up to.  As a kid, I didn’t realize this, so I’d happily prattle onto grandmas, friends, telemarketers, whomever.  Now, though, now that I know about the cues body language gives, and the protection e-mail affords with its backspace key, I’m loathe to make any phonecall that might put me up against someone scary.  You know, like a receptionist at a doctor’s office, an administrator at a school, a maitre d’ at a restaurant, or a coworker.  And yes, they are all too scary.  All these people have the power to shut me down, tell me no, tell me I’m ignorant or catch me unprepared.  When do I want an appointment?  I don’t know!  There aren’t any reservations?  Now what?  I don’t have the kid’s name spelled right and you can’t help me because I don’t have the release of information signed?  I’m sorry! 

In a face to face conversation, they can see my flustered face, watch me buy time by looking in my calendar or shuffling papers.  In a real conversation, you can make a silly face, or hold up a hand to say “wait”.  On an e-mail you can wait until you gather everything you need.  You can link to webpages and look up phone numbers and take your sweet time.  And in the blessed new medium of a text message, you don’t even have to have a conversation.  Just “I’m here” requires no response, not even a “K thx bye.”

And then, my voice.  I HATE my voice.  I don’t know how my husband can tolerate my yammering day in and day out.  On the phone I feel insecure about my voice, my tone, my rate of speech (my #1 critique in SLP grad school from multiple supervisors was to slow down).  And the bitch of it is, I talk faster when I’m feeling confident, secure, comfortable with you.  You’ll catch me stammering, “um”ing, pausing, taking my time, when I have no idea what to say.  You can see this in person.  You can  catch cues from me and we can have a conversation as partners.  On the phone, I might be faking it because I can’t hear you over your screaming children or the traffic outside your car window. 

Answering the phone is another annoyance.  Why can’t I let them all go to voicemail?  Unfamiliar number –> voicemail.  My mother, if I’m not in the mood –> voicemail.  My awkward uncle who talks in a child-molester voice and has three topics of conversation — Miley Cyrus, Brazilian bikinis, and the weather –> voicemail.  At work I avoid the phone like the plague.  If it rings, and the secretary is out, I strategically walk away from the phone and call out for someone else to get it.  My theory at work is, I have no more information to give than the voicemail.  I would just end up taking a message anyway, in my illegible handwriting, and then be charged with relaying the message, and potentially asked more detail than I recall and be blamed if something went wrong.  I cannot transfer a call without hanging up on somebody.  I cannot put a person on hold without forgetting which line they’re on.  I can barely buzz people in the door, and then I often get blamed for not checking who it is.  You expect me to work the intercom and the doorbell?  Please. 

I’d be thrilled if all these cell-phone driving bans get passed, because I’d have another excuse for not talking on the phone, and all the other idiots hanging up and driving wouldn’t be able to call me.