June 20, 2018
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What our voicemail greetings say about us as we age

Erin Donovan
By Erin Donovan

Voicemail greeting prior to marriage

You’ve reached Erin. I’m not able to talk. Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you.

Why exactly was I unable to talk? Why was I indisposed to sit around on the couch, simultaneously studying my manicure and discussing my DVR queue with a friend? Was I too busy seeing a movie or eating a multicourse meal in a seated position? Perhaps I was sick and was occupied with nursing myself back to health by intermittently sleeping and watching sitcom marathons while freebasing Nyquil. I certainly wasn’t doing laundry or making food since both were delivered then. It’s possible I was busy wearing a kimono and steaming my pores with an expensive concoction claiming the restorative properties of the Dead Sea. It is completely plausible that I was already on the phone, talking to a friend while keeping my mother on interminable hold as retribution for inquiring when I’d be assuming payments of my student loans. Most likely, I was sleeping. Not in deep REM cycle because I’d already concluded 12 hours of that, but lying there in a peaceful hazy state pondering what Tim McGraw stores underneath his hat or whether I’d Roofied myself at the bar due to boredom and a shortage of eligible men the night before.

Voicemail greeting after marriage

You’ve reached Erin and Greg! We have the same last name now! And voicemail and address! And for those who assumed we got married so hastily so that I wouldn’t have to raise Greg’s bastard child all on my own, well, you’re wrong, though we do have two dogs now. Bark, Maui and Molly! Leave any of us a message and we’ll call you back when we can! (Giggle, giggle, bark).

What was I so busy doing then? Was I arranging my Pottery Barn dinnerware into orderly stacks in our cabinets? Was I so terribly busy filling up two bowls of dog food that I would then have to refill again a mere 24 hours later? Maybe we were out to dinner, lazily perusing the menu and sipping wine while troubling the waiter to repeat the specials just one more time. We may have been out of the country, staying at one of those resorts that forbids children on the premises but encourages middle-aged nudity on the beach since genitals and stretch marks are far less offensive than toddlers. I may have been contemplating volunteering for something civic, something substantial, such as lobbying for a drive-thru in the local Starbucks. We could have been in the midst of watching every Academy Award-winning movie of the last 50 years since newlyweds love to take on absurd challenges. The days of laundry service were over so it could be presumed I was standing in front of my very first washing machine, trying to decipher Greg’s Da Vinci Code of Dirty as it applies to his clothing. Is this “clean but too dirty to wear to work,” or “dirty but too clean to mow the lawn in,” or “too dirty to wear to work or on the weekend but I’d still wear it to bed,” or just “yeah, you can wash that”?

Voicemail greeting after one child

You’ve reached Erin and… what the hell is your name again? Oh, right. Erin and Greg. Oh and the baby. [Yawn] Leave us a mess — what? No, I’m not including the damn dogs anymore. I haven’t even seen one of them in a couple of weeks. Anyway, we’ll try to call you back, but you might want to just keep calling. And if you’re calling because you found one of our dogs, you can feed it some rawhides and drop it off in a couple of years [yawn]… BEEP!

The phone had likely been dead for days as I’d left it in the baby’s crib hoping the radioactive effect of the wireless signal would induce a nap even if it addled his brain. I may have wanted to answer it, but couldn’t find the phone for it was lost within the deepening wrinkle between my eyes. I likely didn’t answer it because when I heard the ring, I threw my body upon it like a soldier protecting his platoon from a grenade so as not to disturb the sleeping baby. I might have been caught up dedicating each new cellulite pocket on my thighs to various ancestors. Perhaps I did even answer it, but all you heard was muffled noise for 15 minutes, because I actually thought it was my breast pump. You may have called at 4:30 p.m., which is a perfectly reasonable time to talk for most people, but this is the time I would be getting around to putting on pants and brushing my teeth. I could have been speeding down the highway to work, after dropping the baby at the sitter’s house, only to realize 30 miles later, while eating, flossing, tweezing and chipping vomit off my shirt that I wasn’t wearing matching shoes. I probably thought I was already talking to you on my phone when I was truly deep in conversation with Hortensia, my imaginary housekeeper who feeds me pudding and holds a pacifier in my mouth when I start to cry. I may have been out taking a walk with the baby in the cheap stroller Greg insisted we purchase instead of the one that had holders for phones, mugs and parts of your cerebellum you’d like to temporarily remove. Since I had no place to stow my phone, I had to leave it back at the house with the baby I realized I wasn’t pushing 12 blocks later.

Voicemail greeting after more children

The Comcast number you are trying to reach has been disconnected.

Erin Donovan moved with her family to the midcoast, where she constantly is told she says the word “scallops” incorrectly. She performs live and produces Web sketches derived from her popular humor blog “I’m Gonna Kill Him.” Follow her misadventures at imgonnakillhim.bangordailynews.com and on Twitter @gonnakillhim.

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