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Verner: Alone again in robo-call land

Why don’t they call anymore? Don’t they know how disappointing it is for me to walk into the house and look toward the answering machine, hoping to see the little winking light that meant they had left another message just for me?
Don’t I mean anything to them, now that it’s over? How could they be so cruel, stringing me along for weeks with their purring promises and avowals of devotion, only to drop me like a radioactive reverend? What about our future? You know, the one we were going to build together. Or so they promised.
For a while there, leading up to Tuesday’s primary, it was almost a nightly thing. I’d go home, and the light would be blinking, just like the light that Gatsby saw across the bay on Daisy’s dock. I’d notice it immediately and feel a little jolt of excitement, wondering which one it would be this time.
Would it be Michelle again? I really liked it when Michelle called. Something about the lilting huskiness of her voice and the seductive promise it held. The promise of a new day, a new dialogue. The promise of change. We were going to have a new kind of relationship, one unspoiled by old baggage and partisan conflicts of the past. At first, it seemed kind of strange that the calls usually came from Michelle rather than her husband. He’s the one who wanted the longterm commitment, after all. But I knew he had been under a lot of stress lately. A spiritual awakening will do that to you. And I really like listening to Michelle. Maybe it was a fantasy to think we could start a new life together, but when Michelle spoke to me, anything seemed possible.
Or would the message be from Hillary? She said I could call her late at night, and she’d always be ready to answer on the first ring, even at 3 in the morning. It made me wonder: Does she suffer from insomnia ó or is it just all the fast food she eats while traveling around the country giving speeches? As I get older, I’m up a lot at 3 a.m., too, especially when I go a little too heavy on the nachos and jalapeno dip. Maybe she should try Maalox ó or Ambien. I noticed that HiIlary’s calls always seemed to come in the late afternoon or early evening. I guess if she had called me late at night, Bill might have gotten suspicious. I’ve heard they’ve had problems. She deserves better. I can tell she’s a person who really cares. When Hillary called, she always seemed worried about my health insurance, my employment status and how much I’m spending on gas. But then she’d spoil our special moment by hinting that she needed money. I hate it when friends do that. How could she need money? All Bill has to do is give a speech or two, and they can buy Manhattan.
Bev called. So did Fred and Bob and Richard and June. I even got a call from Kay, asking me to give her a chance. Kay sounded certain that she would be a lot better for me than Jim ó or Liddy. Maybe she’s right. For a while there, Liddy and I were pretty tight. Now, she hardly ever comes around anymore, and I can’t remember the last time she called. Maybe I’m being too harsh. She has sent me a form letter or two, describing some of the fun things they’re doing in Washington, like subsidizing ethanol and protecting the homeland from Roger Clemens.
I really miss the way the old days. I’d walk in the door, and the light would be blinking. I’d listen to all the messages, feeling the warm glow that comes from knowing people really care about you and are willing to pick up the phone and let you know. Sometimes, I’d come home after a bad day, feeling depressed or anxious or insecure, and then I’d see the winking light and hit the playback button, and it was just like having a direct line to Dr. Laura. When Michelle or Barack or Hillary told me how much I meant to them and how great things were going to be in the future, my worries would melt away faster than a federal budget surplus.
Then it was over.
I came home Tuesday evening. The light was blinking, same as usual. But there was only one message, and it wasn’t from Bev or Bob or Richard or Kay. It was the doctor’s office, reminding me about the next day’s colonoscopy. I punched the button again, thinking surely there had to be more, but that was it. It was so depressing, I sat down with my wife that night and watched “Dancing with the Stars.” It did not make me feel better, not even when that simpering hunk Cristian hurt his arm and had to go to the emergency room.
Since then, they haven’t left me a single message, and I can’t help wondering why they abandoned me like that. Why the sudden silence, Michelle? Don’t you care about my out-of-network charges any more, Hillary? Bev, give me another chance. I’ll make things right.
Was it something I said? Was it something I did?
Won’t somebody please call and tell me what went wrong?
– – –
Chris Verner is editorial page editor of the Salisbury Post. You can call him at 704-797-4262 or send an e-mail to verner@salisburypost.com.

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