“There’s something I have to tell you.”
A. was talking, a graphic designer friend, who whenever she opens her mouth, whatever follows is reliably acerbic, drole, and never dull.
“Should I be sitting down?” I said, bending my knees to look her at eye level rather than down her chest.
“You call people.” “You know, on the phone…?”
That was it? “Is that weird?”
“Well, I guess not, but in France yes.”
It had been A. who, weeks earlier had goaded me for leaving her a voice mail. “Mec, it’s 2015. No-one leaves voice messages any more. If I get one I delete it without listening to to it. They’re usually harbingers of bad news.”
Text messages were today, alors, the preferred means of communicating it seemed.
“If you ring me, I think ‘Shit, it’s urgent, is he okay?’” She added.
So phoning someone for a simple chat these days is the 2015 equivalent of crying wolf?
R., another Australian friend, younger than me, now chimed in with:
“It’s true though. Now when I ring people it’s via Skype, and you just know it’s gonna take like 1-2 hours of your Saturday.”
R. shuddered; Saturdays in France are basically the only day to run errands if you have a 9-5 job – until Sunday trading happens, which, will be in generation’s time given the glacial pace at which French culture evolves. (Check this infographic with everything that’s changed in France over 10 years.)
But, she added, it was definitely a good thing to call a girl if you were planning a date. “That shows courage,” the two girls agreed.
…Perhaps it was with this in mind when, two weeks later, I had hit a dead-end with a girl. Despite a few dates, the trail had started to grow cold, with texts unanswered. Nothing for it, I reasoned, I’ll call to demonstrate my bravery.
Needless to say, the ensuing conversation was awkward and counter-productive. It was also after midnight on a Wednesday, so perhaps I’d stepped over that line between brave and stupid.