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Out On A Pledge

What does it mean when a man says “I’ll call you” at the end of a date? Some guys say it and call; other guys say it and don’t. Why do they say it if they don’t mean it? Do they take perverse pleasure in the idea that we women might be sitting by the phone waiting for a call that never comes?

--Wired And Tired

Right now, thousands of people are murmuring “pleased to meet you” instead of saying what’s really on their minds, like “You look like you’d be bad in bed,” or “What am I, a docking station for dull people?” Today alone, probably a half-dozen strangers will ask “How are you?” -- which is your cue to chirp “Fine!” Of course, they don’t care how you really are any more than you care to tell them: “Actually, I’m debating whether to stick my head in the oven or go out with more of a bang.”

Like lettuce under cafeteria Jell-O, all this stuff is conversational garnish. The same goes for “I’ll call you.” Regarding whether guys take “perverse pleasure” in making women sit twitching by the phone; how many guys have you ever met who are that schemingly complex? At the end of the date, a guy’s suddenly confronted with a big block of empty air space, and he realizes that standing around completely mute is an extremely poor exit strategy. The pressure mounts. He has to say something...anything. Well, anything but “Every moment we spent together was a moment I spent dreaming of never seeing you again.” Right. He’ll “call you.”

That’s why the rational response to “I’ll call you” is rapid memory loss. Forget you ever met the guy unless the phone rings and it’s him on the other end. At that point, it’s probably safe to assume “I’ll call you” was a coded message meaning “I’ll call you,” not “After a few years of electroshock therapy, this evening should become a distant memory.”

Copyright ©2003, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.