My Default Setting Is “Ass”

Monday night, I’m reading the auld laddie a book when the telephone rings. I’m uplifted a bit, since my wife was traveling on business, and both the boy and I thought it was her calling to wish him good night. But it’s not.

Me: This is Brian.
Woman’s slightly garbled voice: Mommy?
Me: This is not your mommy.
Woman: Mommy, where are you? We can’t find you.
Me: She’s not here.
Woman: We can’t find her.
Me: She’s not here.
Woman: Can you help me?
Me: No.

I hung up. At first, I didn’t know if the woman (not a girl) was on drugs or what, but I think she was distraught. The boy was agitated; he heard the whole exchange because I answered the phone on speaker as is my wont. When I didn’t hear the my wife’s voice, I immediately became curt and guarded. I didn’t know if this was some sort of prank or what. Maybe it was some distraught daughter calling her mother’s cell phone and distraughtedly reaching my home phone at 7:10. I dunno.

So I was an ass, I suppose. I don’t know how I could have helped her over the phone except to tell her to call the police. And maybe have been a little more polite. But I’m the suspicious sort and guarded, so my default setting is “ass.”

The whole thing confounded me. I feel like Clarence Day’s father, but with a fouler mouth.