On the Phone

June 4th, 2017

“Certain kinds of intimacy emerge on a phone call that might never occur if you were sitting right next to the person.” – Errol Morris

 

During the course of our four week road trip, we sometimes heard from our children, usually in the form of texts. Hannah wrote to me about a money issue. I told her that we would handle it when I got home. All conversations with Hannah are like scenes from The Godfather; everything is strictly business. Stefan would text us occasionally. Mostly, he was responding to how we described our travels. He would send short messages that said, “Cool” or “Fun” or “Some of us have to work for a living”.  He would also assure us that the house had not burned down, and that the dogs were still alive. Good to know.

Hans liked to call us, and he liked to talk at length. Sometimes, it was about work. Some, he spoke about his Harley. Sometimes, he just rambled on. Hans never called to have a conversation. He called in order to have a monologue. It was pure flow of consciousness; no regulator valve between the brain and the mouth.  Hans just loved to talk.

He called one time while we were in California. I told him where we were and what we were doing. It was quiet on his end, and then he asked,

“So, how long has it been since you left my place in Texas?”

“I don’t know. A week or so,” I replied.

“And you’re still not home yet?”

“No, we’re not.”

“This doesn’t sound like the Dad that I know.”

“Well, I changed. We are taking our time.”

There was a pause. Then Hans asked, “Who are you, and what have you done with the real Frank?”

“Just shut the fuck up.”

Laughter.

Then Hans said, “Well, it does sound pretty cool. I would like to take a trip like that on my bike.”

“Well, then, go do it.”

Hans said, “What I really want to do is take a ride like those two guys in that old hippie movie.”

“You mean Easy Rider?”

“Yeah. That one. You know, it had those two guys on choppers. What were their names?”

“Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper?”

“Yeah! Those guys. And there was the guy who played the lawyer…”

“Jack Nicholson.”

“Yeah! Him! That would be cool. Well, except for the part about getting murdered by hillbillies.”

“Yes, that would be unfortunate.”

Hans laughed. “I’m a redneck, so I would shoot back. They wouldn’t expect that shit.”

“I would expect not.”

“Hey, I’m getting another call. I got to go.”

“Okay. Love ya.”

“Love you too.”

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