Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Called the Wrong Number to Germany

It has really been great having my Soldier Son back in Germany. I haven't seen him, but I've talked with him quite a few times and he sounds wonderful. He's so happy to be back. I can tell he's changed some, but not necessarily in a bad way. He's older, if that makes any sense. He's grown into a man.

It kind of reminds me of a summer he spent with his father. We were living in Michigan at the time and so both the kids went to Georgia to spend the summer with their father. His voice changed one night. Literally. I talked with him one day and he sounded like himself. The next day he sounded grown. That's kind of what this feels like. My frat boy son went to Germany three years ago. At some point he became a man. Then he went to Baghdad and 15 months later he came back in charge of things, confident and self-assured.

The thing is that I didn't have his new phone number. I had his girlfriend's phone numbers, but not his. I thought maybe he still had the same number. I knew he probably didn't, but I needed to tell him something and thought I'd dial the number. A man answered the phone, 'Hallo'. Okay, it sounded KINDA like Josh, but not quite - and sometimes he does answer in German so I thought MAYBE it was him.

'Hey Josh', I said with a question in my voice, I wasn't sure it was him at all.

The man on the other end of the line said, 'Vlsdknfj oelejoei aoiej cvlkn e oeijfa cne voe rijfa['ew jfcaocnv oe.'

That wasn't Josh. Now I was sure of it. I didn't know what to say but I was raised to use telephone manners, so I couldn't just hang up. That would go against all my raising. 'I'm sorry, I dialed the wrong number.' I said. I then waited for a reply as if that was a reasonable thing to expect.

The man then replied, 'Wekndkdnfowe lkjsoeih hiohopies neoweihf eoifho veojff'olsn.'

He spoke in full sentences as though we were carrying on a conversation, which made no more sense than me speaking to him in full sentences. But again, it was against everything I was ever taught to just hang up. If he'd been a salesman who had called me it would have been different. But I had called him and had an irresistible need to explain that I was sorry I had disturbed him. I again apologized, 'I'm sorry, I've dialed the wrong number'.

This bizarre and ridiculous tete-a-tete went on back and forth two or three times. I finally apologized and just hung up the phone and laughed to myself. I just called Germany and carried on a conversation with some stranger in a different language that neither of us understood for a couple of minutes. That's just strange.

I never did get ahold of my son that evening.

Well, it was funnier in person.