Three phone calls that form a loop…

So I’m standing in the bar after Cal’s awesome event yesterday and my phone tells me that I have a voice mail. I find somewhere relatively quiet and try and listen to it – it’s the people from Traceline ringing me up. They’ve left one of those utterly aggravating messages that sounds kind of urgent and alarming and downbeat but don’t tell you anything so you’re left to suspect the worse. Something like, “{Sigh} Mr Coates, I’m ringing from Traceline. {Sigh / Sympathetic noise} I’m ringing regarding your attempt to find your father. {Serious face inferred, maybe eyebrow action of some kind, perhaps a solitary tear} If you could ring me back I’ll go into lurid details about how your absent father that you’ve not seen since you were four has been ground up by some kind of articulated sausagemeat machine after slipping on a patch of lard literally ten seconds after hearing you were looking for him.” The whole last section is what’s going on in my head, anyway. Then they leave a phone number in the UK at an insane staccato rhythm and hang up. Five attempts to get the number written down later, it decides to delete itself.

This kind of throws me for a loop. Is he dead? Are they ringing up to tell me that he’s dead? Why else would they be so apparently evasive and sympathetic on the phone. I think about the time difference – they’re now asleep and won’t be awake until I’m asleep. I go out for Mexican food and try and put it out of my mind. They make Guacamole at the table. I have a Margarita-fueled microfight with a guy from Technorati about Microformats.

We wind the reel on and suddenly it’s 4am PST and I’m asleep on Leslie‘s sofa and my mobile rings – it’s the lady from Traceline. She’s not at all apocalyptic now – evidently she had been a bit tired in the earlier phone call. Poor love. I become increasingly clear that Traceline should fire people who get moody when they’ve not had enough biscuits rather than let them take it out on the people to whom they’re delivering news about lost/dead relatives. But that’s another story. In the meantime, she has news and it’s … irritating. They’ve found someone who matches the sparse data that I was able to provide them with – they don’t know his middle name, but he has the initial ‘J’ – and they’re keen to get more information so that they can better assess if this is the right guy or not. Specifically they want to know his mother’s maiden name. Unfortunately, I have no more information at all that I can provide. They agree to send me some details of the person they’ve found. I put down the phone. It’s 4.05am.

New reactions – is this the right guy? What if it’s not the right guy? Is this crap ever going to end? Why can’t it be easy? Should I ring my mother and see if she knows his mother’s maiden name after all? How the hell do I write a letter to someone who might be my father? This whole enterprise sucks – the whole point was that it would be the right guy and that if he was alive I could write to him and say what I needed to say and then even if he didn’t reply at least I’d know he’d read it. At least I’d know he was alive. This whole vague bullshit – “Dear Mr Coates, I think you might be my birth father. Course you might not. Are you? Um. Love, your son? I think?” – what the crap is that about… That’s no good at all.

4.15am, I decide to ring my mother. My little brother answers. I miss my little brother. I don’t think he knows I’m doing any of this. No one in my family reads my weblog, anyway. My mother appears to be out, so I leave a sleepy message with him that doesn’t mention any of the parental stuff.

And what I realise afterwards is that all in fact it did say was that it was 4am, I’m in the States, I sound a bit sad and I didn’t leave a message. What I have done, in fact, is leave one of those utterly aggravating messages that sounds kind of urgent and alarming and downbeat but don’t tell you anything so you’re left to suspect the worse. I now imagine my mother getting home and sitting nervously by the phone trying to work out if I’ve been ground up by some kind of articulated sausage machine after slipping on a patch of lard. And of course she could ring me, but she won’t…