>>> Casual Misanthropy
By staff writer JD Rebello
October 29, 2003

One of the unspoken traditions of college life is the call home. For those of you lucky enough to have had both your parents die in a car fire, it goes like this: once or twice a week, you have to phone home, kind of like E.T. Also like E.T., there are a bunch of government agents waiting anxiously to rape you and jam you into a coffin for “experimentation.” And that’s before Mom even picks up the phone.

For some reason, it’s MY duty to make the call. All the time. My parents stopped using the phone in 1995. Whenever I’m home, and someone calls, I have to answer. My parents could be thirty inches from a phone, and I could be choking to death, and I’d still be expected to answer.

I blame telemarketers. My dad gets so angry whenever he has to talk to one of these people that his left eye twitches and he starts speaking German. For the record, my dad is Portuguese.

The first person I talk to when I call is my brother, who always picks up, again, because my parents don’t answer the phone. My brother and I have conversations that rival Helen Keller and a dog with ADHD in maximum brevity. If a conversation goes on longer than 20 seconds, I feel burned out. Now, it’s not that I don’t like my brother, but what do we have to say to each other? Girls always tell me we should share everything, like sisters do. What?! The only time my brother and I ever shared our feelings, there was an aluminum bat and a lot of tears involved. I also hate when my brother gets a Forrest Gump-esque report card and my mom busts this out: “Talk to your brother, show him the way.” What am I gonna tell him? “Dammit, Jordan. Get good grades, go to college, so you can drink like a madman, and live a life of studding sloth and decadence.”

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Then I talk to dad. My dad and I really don’t have much to say–we’re guys. Granted, we’ve been talking a lot lately because of the Red Sox–conversations that prominently involve the words “Fuck” and “Steinbrenner”. Again, I really like my dad, but we’re guys and guys don’t say much to each other. One little story about my dad. Last March, I drank too much and got so trashed I called the cops on myself. Knowing I had to ‘fess up at some point, I called home and told him. He was really cool about it. But then, over the summer, I ate all the chocolate and strawberry out of the Neapolitan ice cream and he went ape shit. That’s my dad for you: priorities in perspective.

Then there’s mom. She accounts for roughly 99% of my call home. Everytime I call, she has something new that “needs discussing.” Here are the four major points she touches on.

1. Cell phone bill. My cell phone bill is always high. There’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t even know who I call that takes up 300 minutes. I offered to stop calling home. That went over real well.

2. Grades. Since I’m on scholarship, grades are kind of important. But since my mom has no concept of the curve or bad professors or being too hungover to go to class for three straight weeks, any deviation from a 3.0 is cruel and tragic. By the way, why is 3.0 the benchmark for scholarships. 3.0 is bullshit. Why can’t they just give “poor and ignorant” scholarships? “Hey Johnny, way to bust out a 1.1 in that basket weaving survey course, here’s $15,000.” Come to think of it, they do have scholarships for ignorant morons, but you have to play football to get one.

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3. Girls. “So do you have a girlfriend?” My mom loves to throw that question in there. And apparently, “Does that stripper I bang from time to time count as a girlfriend?” is not an acceptable response. Neither is taking Candy Pants home for Thanksgiving. Even though she brought a delicious jello mold, my family still judged her. Who’s the real sinner here?

4. And finally, we come to money. Whenever I ask my mom for money, I have to bust out tears not seen since the last half hour of The Breakfast Club. And I always say I need it for a book. I bought 28 books last semester. For 3 classes. I got real drunk off a few of those books.

The absolute worst is calling home and only getting one parent. That never suffices as an actual call. I have to call again the next day. It’s like throwing a no-hitter and having the game delayed due to rain.

And now I leave you with a few tips to making that call home shorter and shorter:

1. Claim you have a big test tomorrow. Hearing your mom describe her urinary tract infection in graphic detail can be put on hold.

2. Blame it on bad reception. If you have Cingular, this makes for a very legitimate excuse.

3. Claim you’ve just been robbed at gunpoint and are too shaken up to talk. Make sure to ask for some more money before you hang up.