We get calls in the late hours of the evening, and early in the morning too. She always rushes to the phone, making sure to get there before I do so she can pick it up herself. She speaks in a low voice, usually taking the phone and oh-so-casually ambling over to her computer while she's chatting. She sits down and talks on the phone and types into her computer. What are they sharing?
All I know is that she talks for hours, in very intense conversations. Every once in a while she gives out an exclamation ... "Oh!" or "Aaah!"
After she gets off the phone she's usually mumbling something to herself -- sweet endearments for her new paramour? -- and then she appears flushed, red in the face, as if she's experiencing some strong emotion.
Yesterday, while she was at work, the phone rang. I answered reflexively, not stopping to check caller i.d. on the telephone. It was a man. He asked if B was there. "No," I replied. "She's at work."
"Oh," he said in a deep voice. I could tell he was disappointed.
He had a slight accent. Leave it to B to have an affair with some exotic man, a world traveler, someone who hails from parts unknown. A member of European royalty? No, the accent didn't sound right for that. Maybe a rich Arab oil sheik? Or an Indian maharaja?
"My name is Devon," the man went on. "She asked me to call her this morning." I thought he was being rather brazen about this. Who the hell did he think I was? And I wasn't buying this business about Devon being his real name. With an accent like that?
"She's not here," I said curtly.
"I'm sorry I missed her. I can call back later." He was being very polite. Too polite. I didn't like it. But he told me he'd try again tomorrow morning, then he hung up.
Later, after B got home, I told her she's gotten a call. From Devon.
"Oh yes, thanks," she said. Her eyes were downcast. She had a look on her face ... of what? Disappointment. Regret?
"Do you want to tell me what this is about?" I queried.
"Oh, I really don't want to bother you," she said in a clipped voice. Then she turned abruptly and went upstairs.
The issue came to a head this morning. The phone rang at 8:15 a.m. I rushed to the kitchen, beating B to the phone. I picked up the handset, this time peering at the caller i.d. I knew the name.
"Hello, Devon," I challenged. "Are you looking for B?"
"Yes, sir," he replied. "Is she there? We have to discuss our exchange."
"An exchange?" I asked. And I wondered: Is that what they call it where he comes from?
"Yes," he said. "I finally got authorization to exchange her old machine for a new one."
I handed over the phone to B. She talked for a minute, nodding approvingly. Finally she smiled. "Yes, that would be good." Then she hung up and turned to me. "Finally," she said. "I get some satisfaction."
"You know the computer I bought last month?"
I remembered -- because I'd advised her against it. And now I knew why the name on the caller i.d. looked familiar. I'd had one of those computers once. It was a nightmare. I'd told her all about my trials and tribulations trying to get any kind of customer service. I slipped a disk in my neck after cradling the phone all those hours waiting on hold.
But this was just the computer she'd been looking for -- an all-in-one-unit desktop with a touch screen and wi-fi, so she could put it wherever she wanted in the house. And the salesman at Best Buy had told her he'd help her set it up. She'd bought it sometime in October, but I'd forgotten about it because she never uses it.
"I told you about five times," B continued, "the wi-fi doesn't work. I've been on the phone with four different people. They could never figure out how to fix it. So eventually I got Devon, and he's giving me a new computer. He says it will be either the same as the one I've got, or else a better one."
I paused. "Huh," I said. "So where is this guy from?"
"India. All the service people are from India. But they're pretty good about calling back, either in the morning or at night, when I'm not at work."
"Yes, you're right," I said. I knew that her secret late-night conversations were not with a paramour named Devon Dell, but with the customer service department of Dell computer. Finally I replied, "Well, I hope they don't give you the same one. I hope they give you a better one!"