A little hung up about phone numbers

Before I could excavate the phone book from under the kitchen counter, my son stopped me and rattled off some numbers.

"I've called the bowling alley before," he assured me. "I know that number."

He wasn't smirking. He looked confident, so I fell for it. A lady answered. From the sound of her voice, she was doing well to pick up her own feet, let alone a 12-pound bowling ball. I didn't bother asking if she had any open lanes.

"Wrong number," I chirped.

I don't know if this is a quirk of the male gender or if I'm just living with oddballs, but my husband and youngest son take pride in being able to recall phone numbers that they've dialed only once or twice. To them, it's a sign of weakness to use a telephone book. Their motto: Pride goeth before a call.

Unfortunately, I'm the gullible one usually making those calls.

In the old days, pre-caller I.D., it wasn't such a big deal to flub the numbers. Now people are hyper-sensitive to wrong calls, even when they aren't home. More than once, I've called a wrong number and realized it when the answering machine clicked on. Later that day, I've had the strangers return the call to ask why I telephoned.

Here's why, strangers: I live with men who like to show off their great memories and have a hang-up about using a telephone directory. They're right just often enough to convince me that they'll be right again. Making a phone call around here is like playing the slots, only the odds are much better. Eighty-five percent of the time, they give me the winning numbers.

Not long ago, I wanted to call a local video store at about 10 p.m. to see if they had a certain Woody Allen movie available. Before I could consult the phone book, my husband supplied the number.

"I don't believe you," I just flat out told him, although he was wearing a poker face. "I'm not falling for this again and harassing some poor stranger."

He shrugged and said, "Fine. Look it up if you don't believe me."

Then my son piped up. "Dad's right. That's the number."

What could I do? Here were two guys with their manhood on the line.

This reminded me of the time not long ago when we got tangled up in Kansas on unmarked roads and would still be circling the wooden water tower in Beaumont if I hadn't insisted on having that nice emu rancher draw us a map. My spouse wasn't about to ask for directions. He's good with numbered highways 85 percent of the time, too.

But I'm gullible and forgiving. I called the number and a friendly female answered. I heard a racket in the background that sounded businesslike. Funny, though, she didn't answer with "Crown Video."

"Do you have 'Deconstructing Harry'?" I asked.

She slammed down the phone.

The number geniuses insisted that I had bungled the numbers they had given me because my spouse didn't have a lick of trouble calling and learning that the movie had been rented.

I wish now that I had punched redial. I would wager a buck that he was just talking to "time and temp."

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