Now I was calling partially (mostly) to try to hear or catch up on any news about the girls because, frankly, they're über-cute and I was deep into cute-withdrawal after having been able to spend two days with them at the reunion. But the thing is, they don't talk on the phone. Leslie will have to coax them into saying anything at all usually, which is cute, but an "I love you" from Haley over the phone might be followed up with one from her a moment later in the background saying "I love you" to Barney. Usually they listen and maybe smile, and then push the phone away. We've never really gotten much sense that they "got" what was going on with the phone, although Grace seemed to be a little more on board.
Tonight all the Pre-Teen Girl Phone Instincts suddenly appeared without warning.
Leslie told me later, laughing, that when the phone had rung (again, they'd just hung up on Daddy), Grace suddenly yelled something of the sort of classic pre-teen girl ritual cry of "I got it! I got it! I got it!" Haley jumped right into the stampede and, as I mentioned, identified me right off. Thus began what at first was something I'd long wished for – that the girls would talk to me on the phone – and quickly became one of those good ideas you hadn't entirely thought through: they didn't really have a lot to say.
Oh, they gabbled about colors they were wearing or food they had eaten that day, when I asked ("Corn duck!" yelled Haley in response to that one: read "corn dog"), but there was a lot of unintelligible gabbling, giggling, and awkward pauses. (That begs more young girl jokes, but I move on.) Then began the ritual fighting over the phone, as they took turns demanding to talk with Uncle Mike, but not really having a lot to say. Haley in particular was really catching up on the concept behind her older sister Grace, as I struggled to stop asking questions that could be answered with a "yes" or a "no," since Haley was apparently enthusiastically responding to me with nods and head-shakes. Leslie in the background kept telling her – when not laughing at the entire spectacle – that I couldn't see her and that she had to speak, but the mute conversation kept recurring at intervals.
After a time, I began wishing that I could talk with my sister, but the girls kept resisting that suggestion from me and simply traded the phone back and forth to one another. I think I've entered a new "best of times, worst of times."