Playing It Cool: The Phone Call Screen

Written By: Sarah Jacobson

When I was young, I told myself that someday, when men chased me around, I’d “screen all my phone calls” like Gwen Stefani did in my favorite song of the era, “Don’t Speak.” However, now that I’ve grown up and men aren’t exactly chasing me around as often as they did in my childhood dreams, I’ve had fewer opportunities to do so. Such a chance arose for me recently via a blind date set up by a family friend, and, willing to take the plunge, I gave out my phone number to said potential date. I hoped that when he called, it would show up as a number I didn’t recognize, and my screening sixth sense would immediately kick in.

No such luck. When my date did call, I not only picked up the phone thinking it was someone else, but made him feel awkward about the fact that I’d been hoping to screen. Additionally, I had a crazy weekend coming up, and asked if it would be all right if I gave him a call on Sunday. Strike one against me, clearly. Hoping to clear the air, I sent a text message later that evening apologizing for my awkwardness over the phone and promised to give him a call in a few days. As promised, on Sunday evening, I picked up the phone and called him back.

My date, it seems, was one step ahead of me. Not only did he screen my call (which I congratulated him for in my message), but after two days, he still hadn’t returned the favor. Now, it’s one thing to screen, but it’s quite another to make a girl wait. I’m a single twenty-something who went out on a limb to even accept the offer of a blind date (what on earth was I thinking?), and here he is making me think I said something wrong by mentioning the screen.

I have, as I said above, always been a fan of the screen. It gives you a chance to evaluate the person calling on their voice, their composure, and most of all, their choice of words. Following the above experience, however, I’m beginning to wonder if I am, as I’m often told, “too judgmental.” Is the screen a bad thing? Am I the only one who employs this tactic? No. I’m not. I know for sure that I’m not. But I’m beginning to think that what turned off my potential date was the fact that I mentioned “the screen” – I shouldn’t have said “I’d have done the same”, because now it seems he thinks I’m an asshole who screens all her calls and then judges her potential dates. Which, I suppose, I am.

What does this mean for my dating future? More importantly, what does it mean for the city of New York, an island that probably collectively screens their calls more than any other city in the country? I’m looking for some input here, men of New York. Was it a bad move to joke about the screen? Clue me in. Is the screen the muggle dating world equivalent of mentioning Voldemort?
My date called on Wednesday evening. Three nights had passed since the message in question, and I did as I always do – I let the call go to voicemail. He didn’t mention the screen in his message. We’ve got a date for this weekend. Perhaps it is all about the screen.

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