There was a time when I could answer the phone, hear heavy breathing and know it was an obscene phone call.
Today when I answer the phone and hear heavy breathing, I know it is probably one of the kids.
If I answer the phone, say hello and hear shallow panting against a background noise similar to cattle stampeding, it is the youngest calling from college.
"Hi, Mom pant, huff, gasp I'm between classes huff, puff, gulp on my way to another building. Walk me to class?"
Walk her to class? I'm miles from campus, but sure, I can walk her to class.
"So, how's the sidewalk?" I ask. "They still making it that same ugly shade of gray?"
She says something, but I can't make out what. Her breathing grows heavier and the phone is jostling so much that I can only make out every fifth word. "Paper . . . pant, huff, puff . . . weekend . . . whoo, whoo, whoo. . . fire . . . pant, gasp, pant. . .
It could be she has a paper to work on over the weekend and is fired up about the football game. Or it could be a paper was too close to the stove over the weekend and she set the apartment kitchen on fire. There's no way to know. Either way, it was
sure nice talking to her.
"Call me the next time you go to the library!" I shout into the phone. That's a farther walk, which means we can talk longer.
If I pick up the phone and hear short little gasps with a click, click, click in the background, this would be the kid wearing dress shoes, leaving her stint at a hospital late at night and wanting company while she walks through the parking lot.
"Nice of you to call," I say.
"Well, (wheeze) I have a couple of minutes."
Or less. When I hear the clinking of keys and ding, ding, ding (the door chime) it means she has reached her car and the conversation is about to come to an abrupt end.
The other day I picked up the phone and heard an unfamiliar "ha, ha, ha, hee, hee, hee." breathing pattern.
"Who is this?" I demanded to know.
"It's your son."
"Well, you're scaring me because that is the breathing pattern your dad and I learned for transitional labor in our Lamaze
class. You're not pregnant, are you?'
"No, but ha, ha, hee hold on a sec."
The scream of a siren and a terrific roar blast through the phone.
"What's going on? It sounds like you're standing on a train track."
"Almost," he huffed and puffed. "That was the El at the same time a cop car shot by. I'm running to the platform ha, ha,
ha, hee, hee, hee to catch my train thought we could talk on the way."
I'm glad they call. I just never pictured myself as running an escort service.