Telephone Strategies as an Impediment
to Homoerotic Love
very day there are thousands of occasions where two fellows conceive an attraction for one another and exchange phone numbers, with the intention of "call me and let's get together!" However, a large portion of these intentions fail to bear fruit, even when both men keenly desire it. The main reason is the mismatch of "telephone strategies".
There are essentially five different Telephone Strategies, divided into the two broad categories of the "ones who call" and the "ones who are called". To use an athletic metaphor, the former play "forward" and the latter "defense". Most (but not all) tops are the ones who call, and most (but not all) bottoms are the ones who are called.
Here are the five Telephone Strategies, ordered from the most "forward" to the most "defensive".
Ones who call
A Will call and will leave message
B Will call, but won't leave message; insist on speaking to the real person
Ones who are called
C Will answer and will return calls
D Monitor calls for desirability and will return calls from a desirable caller
E Monitor calls for desirability but will not return calls
The problem arises from the interaction of these types. Unless one of the men is willing, at least temporarily, to play the role of the One Who Calls, the pair will never get in touch. When both are Ones Who Call, contact will be swift, although perhaps less so if both prefer Strategy B. Here are all the possible matches between the five Telephone Strategies, with an estimate of how soon the pair will be able to set a time and place for that crucial First Date:
The most intriguing are the combinations B/D and B/E: although B is willing to call, even repeatedly, contact is never made because B hangs up instead of starting to leave a message so that the "monitoring" D or E can pick up the phone.
This analysis reveals a huge impediment to getting together: there will never be a First Date for 13 of the 25 Strategy combinations, and there will be serious delays for another 5 combinations. If gay men are distributed evenly among the Strategies, there will be no connection in 52% of the cases where a pair of men desire it.
Obviously, the solution is to print the above table as a wallet-size card for wide distribution among gay men. Then, at the time of exchanging numbers, a pair of men can check their match of Telephone Strategies. If they find their match is unpropitious, they should set a time and place for the First Date right then, rather than risk never seeing one another again.
The Telephone Strategies problem is alleviated if the One Who Is Called owns a high-tech phone with Caller ID service. Then "monitoring" is effective in all the A/D, A/E, B/D, and B/E combinations, so long as the One Who Is Called can recognize the phone number of the desirable caller.
In the near future gay men may start exchanging E-mail addresses rather than phone numbers. Here the world of gay men divides into the Ones Who Send Mail and the Ones Who Respond. There is no monitoring and one has no choice but to leave messages; therefore, the above categories collapse into A's and D's. The only problem for a mutually admiring pair of men, then, is to make sure that at least one prefers the One Who Sends Mail strategy.(printer friendly version)