Calling Eddie.

He answers with a huge celebratory…. “You are my first call on this phone!” 

I laugh.  “I should be…I bought it.”

He laughs…. “Did you get my message?”

I hadn’t.  I have a new phone…a smart phone…and though it is effusive in its announcements of texts and emails, it is coy about letting me know I have a voicemail…it seems to screen which calls interests it and makes me guess about the rest…at least that’s how it feels.

“No…not yet.”

“Well…I just wanted to say…thank you…for the phone.  It is a really good one.”

“I know…I didn’t cheap out this time.”

He laughs.  He pauses…I wonder if he is going to mention the meeting.  I have spent some time worrying about how he felt about the meeting.  I worry I have offended him, though I cannot remember offending him in decades.  He is very thick skinned.  Still, though it was a good meeting, a meeting where hard things were said but with a clear goal of getting rid of resentments and reconnecting, a goal I feel was definitely achieved, I feel vulnerable.  Ed was unusually quiet during the meeting.  In fact he said nothing until the end when the newly cohesive team of his staff and me began brainstorming around improving his business. (My brother is a human billboard…but we’ll talk about that another time.)

“I also wanted to thank you for the meeting…”  from that moment Ed broke his sacred communication rule of only saying one short sentence at a time so that I can repeat it to prove I understand him.  He rambled on and on not waiting to hear if I understood.  He sounded impassioned.  I only caught bits and pieces, but they were rather dear so I did not ask him to repeat the rest…the nuances.  I bet most of Ed’s nuances get lost by his unruly tongue. 

 I really only understood the sentences “You were very professional” and “Thank you for talking about my walker (the host of his business)..I appreciate you talking about it.”

I am so relieved.  I am so grateful he noticed the result of all my emotional prep-work.  I am in shock that he called me professional.  This broke another sacred rule, the one between us that states we never complement each other.  I am fairly certain that one was in the contract we both signed at birth.

“You’re welcome,” I say…a bit choked-up.

“I don’t think they will do shit to fix the business.” 

Ah…there’s my brother.  The sappy tear that was about to escape my eye retreats.  Ed and I are not a mushy pair.

“I do.”

“I don’t.”

“Well then you and I will keep having meetings and we will be squeaky wheels until they do.”

“Okay…I really want to thank you again.”

I hang up after our good-byes and check my phone….sure enough the message Ed sent me had not been announced.  He must not be on the “In” list of that sultry sounding bitch who rules my phone. I push some fake buttons that vibrate to mimic a tactile response.

“Hi Beth, this is Ed,” his voice is slow, deliberate and barely understandable.

“I just want to thank for getting me this phone…and for going to the meeting.  That was a good meeting…You gave a good speech….You were intelligent….You made a good thing…I enjoyed listening to you…..So I want to thank you…talk to you later…bye-bye.”

Intelligent…that sappy tear falls from my eye…it is followed by many, many more until there is a slight storm of old pain cascading.