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October 01, 2007

"Hey...just calling to check in..."

Kelly's column is reprinted here with permission from The Bay Area News Group.

I know that on Mondays at 10am, my husband meets with his boss. Those meetings last about ninety minutes and often there is about fifteen minutes of pressing work on either end. I also know that the first Friday of every month, the board of his small start-up meets and those meetings require about two hours of uninterrupted prep time and at least twenty minutes of chatting afterwards. I know his train schedule and that it takes him about ten minutes to settle into his commute and feel ready to kick back and chat. I know these things because I have been living with him for eight years and I have picked up on his basic routine. These effortless observations help me decide when to call and when to hold off for an hour, or even just five minutes.

Now. My husband is more “spontaneous.” He might call at 8:05am, to ask me to remind him (when he gets home in twelve hours) to find that parking receipt from last week’s trip to LA for his expense report. Or, he might call at 6:00pm for no reason at all, just a sweet, lazy hello, as he stares out the window at the traffic jam on 880 North. I have tried to point out that the kids’ dinnertime is not when I am at my conversational best. I have tried to explain that I only pick up at this time in case of emergency or to get the vigil ante thrill of barking at a telemarketer. And yet.

Last summer, during one such call, he called with a tidbit.

“Hi,” I said. “Bad time. Can we talk when you get home?”

“Sure yeah, just lemme tell you one quick thing—” he insisted.

“Um, ok,” I responded, phone wedged between my ear and my shoulder, hip blocking my daughter from the frying pan, fingers poking at a softball of frozen peas.

“Guess what?” he said, sounding titillated, like you might if you won a new Bentley.

“No idea honey.”

“Selma Hayek skipped a grade.”


“She skipped a grade. She graduated from high school when she was sixteen.”

Let’s just say that no mother would call another mother at 6:00pm unless, perhaps, she opened her fridge to discover there was only a drop or two of chardonnay to carry her through the day’s last grueling hours.

So for the men out there, loving husbands all, here is a list of approved reasons for an ill-timed call:

Your car has broken down and AAA is not answering.
You got a raise. A big one.
You’re at the jewelry store buying diamonds and you need to confirm her ring size.

You’ll note that although surprising and impressive, Selma Hayek’s high school transcript does not make the list. That’s something to tuck away for Day Six of a week vacation where you have exhausted meatier topics like whether to replace your mattress this year and if the kids are listening to High School Musical 2 too much.

That said, I’d rather be doing an Andy Rooney routine over inconvenient calls than no calls at all, so if it’s an either/or, go ahead and keep em coming.