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I'll call
Short story

Kaveh Sartipi
January 26, 2001
The Iranian

It's 9:13 Wednesday night. I take a deep breath and dial the phone number that lies in front of me. Here we go. I press the last digit and wait for the ring, but instead I get an odd sound. What the hell is this? It sounds kind of familiar. Wait, it can't be. I thought they did away with busy signals. I thought everyone had call waiting or at least some sort of automated transfer to voice mail.

All day I've been thinking about what I'm going to say, building up my confidence and now I get a damn busy signal?

This all started a few days ago when I received and email from a close friend, Nooshin. She had met this really cute girl and thought that I should give her a call. At first I laughed.

"Come on, who are you kidding? You want me to call up a girl I've never met?" I wrote. "I can barely talk to the girl who sits next to me in my speech class." I pressed send and laughed some more and went on to the next email.

Two days later, Nooshin calls me and without even saying hi, she asks me what I thought about Neda.



'Who's Neda?"

"Don't tell me you didn't call her! I emailed you her phone number. Don't tell me you haven't checked your email in the last two days! You spend more time on the internet than any my local customer service rep."

"You were serious about that? I thought you were kidding. Why should I call someone I've never met? Now, if you had emailed me her picture, then I might have thought about it."

"You know what, don't call her. I don't care if you spend the rest of your life with internet porn sites and your best friend being your right hand!"

"Hey, what's wrong with porn? Besides, I've moved on. I found this gorgeous plastic blow up doll of Pamela Anderson." But, then again, it could be the real Pamela with all that... oh never mind.

"Come on," Nooshin begged. "I just wanted you to meet someone. She's a real nice girl. Plus, I already told her that you were gonna call and you don't want a lady like this waiting or she might find someone else."

Nooshin did have a point. It probably would be a good idea to get out more often. Since my last relationship I've been watching a lot of cable movies and it's been two years since I went on a real date.

"What the hell am I supposed to say if I call her? I've been out of the game for a along time."

Nooshin cut me off. "Just be yourself. Don't worry, she's a sweet girl."

"All right, I'll call her."

As soon as I hung up the phone, I asked myself, "I need help. I know I'm going to sound like and idiot when I call this girl. What the hell am I going to say?"

Everything that came to mind sounded like a line straight out of a bad porn movie. Then again, are there any good porn movies? Sorry, off the subject.

It's now 9:40. I've worked up all this courage and even though most of it has been chipped away by the busy signal, I still think I need to call

I start dialing, and right before the last number, my roommate knocks on the door and comes in.

"Hey, what happened? Did you call her? What did she...."

My roommate is the next Ken Starr; can't keep his nose out of other people's private lives. I cut him off before the grand jury could hear any more.

"Do you mind? I was just about to call her. Get out!" Another deep breath and the last number.

The phone starts ringing. "Besmellah...."

A young voice on the other end picks up the phone.

"Hello?" she asks as my hands drip with sweat and my heart beats fast.

"Hi, could I speak to Neda please?"

"This is Neda"

"Hi, um, my name is Amir Teh..." All of a sudden she cuts me off, laughing hysterically.

"Ahh, Hello?" I say as I try to comprehend what's going on.

She's still laughing as my heart goes wild, beating like never before. Thirty seconds go by and I just listen to her laugh. This can't be good. I thought Nooshin told her about me, but what did she tell her? She's dead. I can't believe what's happening.

"I'm sorry. I'm not laughing at you," she finally says. "I'm laughing because I thought you were my friend Sara. We were just talking and I thought since we just hung up, you were her."

"Oh..." I answer till the phone fills with silence and she's forced to break it.

"I'm just surprised you called," she says, with one more laugh.

I ask why and she stalls.

"I just didn't expect you to call, that's all."

We both listen to some more silence.

"So?" she says.

I figure it's time to cut my loses and end this conversation ASAP. What little courage I had is now gone.

"Yeah, I just wanted to call and introduce myself. Nooshin gave me your number and said I should call you."

She tells me she met Nooshin at her best friend's house and they've been hanging out since.

"Yeah, well, maybe if you're not busy later this week, we could meet up for some, um, coffee or something." The words leave my mouth and I wonder where they came from. What the hell was that? I knew I was going to sound like an idiot when I called, but this sounds really bad. Just say no Neda, and I can go back to my late night movies and porn.

"Sure, yeah, let's meet for coffee. That would be great."

WHAT? That was not the response I was expecting.

"Great, um, when are you free?"

I try to end the conversation quickly after that. Everything coming out of my mouth is just babble. But she starts asking questions and after a while, I feel like having a coffee with her now, not later. We decide to meet up at the end of the week.

Five minutes later I hang up the phone and come out of my room. Ken Starr is lying on the couch going through the DVD menu for Toy Story 2. He looks at me and asks how it went. I told him I would tell him after we watch the movie.

"I just watched the movie."

"That was quick."

"It was 90 minutes," Ken explains. "You've been talking to that chic for almost two hours."

"Two hours!?"

I can barely remember what we talked about for two hours! If anything, she did sound cute. But then again.

"The phone can be deceiving." Thanks Ken.

After Neda re-schedules twice, four weeks later I can finally put a face to the voice. All I know about Neda is that she doesn't weigh 400 pounds, has shoulder length dark hair with highlights, and brown eyes.

This is particularly helpful since it describes half of the Persian community in Los Angeles. The other half are blond.

The last time we talked, she said she was a really easy to get a long with. "That takes a load off my mind. I have yet to find an easy girl."

"Excuse me?"

Oops, that didn't quite come out the way it sounded in my head. "No, no, no. That's not what I meant. I meant that I have not met an easy GOING girl in a while. It just seems like most of the people I have met recently are up tight and can never relax. They are always stressed out and take things seriously." Okay, so that's a lie, but she doesn't know that I have not been out of the house in months. At least, I hope she doesn't.

It's 2:30 in the afternoon and I'm sitting at the Coffee Bean on San Vicente. Neda works close by but she is half an hour late.

Shit, what should I do? Wait some more while the guy behind the counter laughs at me since he knows I've been stood up or should I take off? But what if she shows up after I leave? That wouldn't be good. Maybe women enjoy playing these games. Maybe she's sitting across the street in her car just watching me sweat this out. God... I love a shot right now.

A few more minutes go by and a tall, sexy lady walks towards me on the sidewalk. She has dark hair and looks Persian. Oh my God. I've struck gold. She gets about 10 feet away and we make eye contact. She smiles at me and I smile back. I start getting out of my seat to say hi and she keeps walking. What happened?

I turn around and she keeps walking. I try to act cool by pretending I was stretching. All of a sudden, I hear laughter in the background. That's it. I'm outta here. Forget Neda. Forget Nooshin and her matchmaking. More than half an hour late and I have made a complete ass of myself. I'm not even sure I can show my face here again.

I then turn around and see who's been laughing at me. All of a sudden, it sounds real familiar.


"Hi, I'm sorry. I don't mean to be laughing at you, but I saw you when I was walking up and I noticed that you were checking that lady out. I had to see what was going to happen next."

She laughed when I first called and now she's laughing at me again on our first meeting, date, whatever the hell you want to call it.

"Yeah, I like to make people laugh at my expense. I figure if I'm having such a bad life, at least I can make someone else enjoy theirs. Anyway..."

"Even though I'm laughing, it is nice to meet you."

We go inside and grab some coffee and sit down. I insist that we sit inside, just so the guy behind the counter can see that I'm here with someone. Someone I come to realize is very cute. Her voice was not deceiving at all. I'm impressed.

After talking for about an hour a we made plans for a real "date."

I try to set up a day, making sure that we don't play another game of phone tag. But she claims this coming weekend her mother is having a mehmooni and she has to be there to help out.

"I'll give you a call later in the week and we can figure something out," she said.

I'm still waiting.

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