This past weekend in the D.C. area was truly something. After the derecho Friday night brought hurricane-force winds and downed power lines and trees, we were left without electricity, Internet access and telephone service.
I've never been happier in my life.
It's not that I enjoy being reminded of my ridiculously short attention span, apparent when I continually flip on useless light switches upon entering a room, or that I particularly relish coming into the house from picking up yard debris in 100 degree weather to refresh myself with a tall glass of tepid water, it’s just that not having phone service provided a reprieve from having to deliberately and actively avoid using the telephone.
You see, the telephone paralyzes me.
You know the scene in almost every horror movie when someone is alone in an eerily silent, dark house and then the silence is interrupted by a ringing telephone and when the person ultimately picks up the phone, whoever is on the other end of that line is some despicable monster who is up to no good? Well, for me, the director could just cut the scene at the ringing phone. That alone gives me nightmares for weeks.
I won't pretend this makes sense because I actually do like interacting with people. I work in communications. Social media sites are my second home. I like talking to people in person. For chrissakes, . But having to conduct discourse via the telephone? Petrifying. I'm not sure if it's the immediacy of the mode or the fact that a ringing telephone just seems so intrusive, but I really cannot handle the pressure of this type of communication.
It has always been this way. When I was a child, my parents thought the best way for me to overcome this phobia was immersion therapy and always tasked me with making phone calls. It was astonishing how many busy signals I claimed to get during these fruitless exercises. I was never one of those teenagers who spent hours on the phone with their friends; and I'm probably the only person in the history of dating who hoped a good date would end with no promise of a call the next day. Honestly, even the Blondie song "Call Me" makes me break out in a cold sweat.
As with any disability, I've learned to cope by making accommodations that help me live a relatively normal life and are effective at camouflaging my weakness.
Really the only downside to not being able to make calls is that when it comes to my column, I can no longer just phone it in.