I don’t like talking on the phone. I once liked talking on the phone when I was young, but only when making prank calls. This was before caller ID; this was when you could open the White Pages or the Yellow Pages to some random name or business and dial away. Once, I called a woman and told her I was lost at the mall. I was in my basement. The dog was beside me on the basement floor licking one of his hot spots. I was probably ten or eleven, but I said, in a babyish voice, “I have to poop, and I have been here all day, and no one looks like my dad.” The woman on the other line said, “I’m on my way, sweetie. Stay right next to Cinnabon, you hear me? I’m leaving now.” She hung up and I didn’t laugh. I just watched the dog keep licking. I wish I could say I thought about calling her back to tell her it wasn’t true, but I can’t.
Once, I stood next to a man by the swings at the park and listened to him scream on his cellphone at his secretary while he absently pushed his baby in the toddler park swing, the one that looks like a rubber diaper. His baby looked like Pat Sajak. The baby’s hair was dark auburn, shiny, and looked sewn on. I think he was asleep as his father screamed into his cellphone, “This is what serious shit sounds like. You dropped the ball, Beth.” I stared at his profile, one hand holding the phone, one hand absently pushing his kid. I don’t want to wear black wingtips to this day. I want to find both women, and say to both women, the children heard nothing that day. The children slept through it all.