Hey, Ladies! Let’s Resuscitate the Phone Call.

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Spotted: A man speaking into the receiver of a telephone, London, April 2006.

Technology has changed dramatically in the span of my dating career. When I started going out with boys, they would call a land line and say politely, “Hi, Mrs. Meanley. Is Erin home?” Now, guys bypass my mom or anyone at home and either text, email, I.M., or BBM. Mostly, they text to say hello, text to ask you out, text you the location, and text you they had a fun time. I miss The Phone Call.

Have you ever read those funny obituaries in Esquire? Well, I wrote an obit for The Phone Call:

The Phone Call is dead. The Phone Call died last Saturday at 1:30 a.m. in my apartment. The Phone Call was 134 years old. The cause was a drunk text sent to Erica by a male Caucasian in his mid-thirties, reading “hey u out?” The Phone Call enjoyed a full life; it was friends with Alexander Graham Bell. It climbed to great heights when it partnered with an answering machine and a cordless phone, and especially when it began offering Caller ID and Call Waiting. But it suffered a near-fatal blow with the invention of the cellular phone. The Phone Call died a slow death. Its health began to decline in 2002 when unlimited text messaging plans allowed texting to become widespread. It is survived by millions of women who remember the way it provided a means for long-form verbal communication and an opportunity to show genuine effort on the caller’s part.

Okay, now I’ll get serious. Texting is great for reminding someone the address of a cafe, or communicating from inside a loud bar, but it’s annoying when someone attempts to have an in-depth conversation. Too many guys overuse texting. Some women out there do it too. Here are the most common, lazy ways that guys communicate—when you’ve just met—and how we can respond:

What he texts: “How’s your week going?”

What you do: Honestly, what are you supposed to say to this? Do you simply type a lame answer like, “good” and risk sounding boring, or give a full, honest report (potentially boring)? Do you try to be witty and funny in 8 words? I mean, I don’t want to have a 20-minute phone call, but I have no patience for conversations over text message. I say, if they ask you something general and lame, don’t text back. Or write, “Good!” and leave em hanging.

What he texts: “Wanna meet up Wed.?”

__What you do:__If you’re tired of being asked out last minute, text, “This Wed.? As in tomorrow? Oops! I already have plans!”

What he texts: “What are you up to this weekend?”

What you do: Are you supposed to give him a play-by-play? If you tell him 5 things, do you sound too busy and unavailable? Is he asking you out? I say, give him a vague answer so that he is forced to get more specific. Text: “Oh, a few parties, some down time, who knows!” Then you sound spontaneous and open.

What he texts: He tells you what he’s doing but doesn’t ask you out.

__What you do:__Some girls feel compelled to come out with an invitation. Don’t let him make you do the asking if you are old-fashioned and don’t want to. If a guy’s text bores me, I just don’t text back. And if he can’t ask me out, I don’t help him.

What he texts: “Are you out tonight? Maybe we can meet up later.”

What you do: Especially if I get this late at night, I don’t answer. Sometimes I’ll actually write, “Nope. In my p.j.s!” Ain’t no shame.

What he texts: “Wanna grab a drink sometime?”

What you do: Text back, “Sure! Give me a call to set something up.”

What’s the most annoying text message you tend to get? Do you feel like you have to play the game? Do you miss The Phone Call? Or do you prefer texting? Have you ever called a guy in reply to a text?


Single John Responds: “Help! He Hasn’t Replied to My Text!”

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