Sly-Dial: The perfect service for confrontation-phobes

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As anyone who's done a bit of dating can attest, playing the field can be a learning experience. Personally speaking, my years of dating taught me many key things that have helped me greatly in my marriage. I learned that I should never miss a birthday, that leaving the seat down is a great way to say "I love you," and that one needs to deal with problems quickly, honestly, and directly.

My biggest teacher in this regard was Holly. During one Christmas break, she ducked my calls, made cryptic statements about friends that she was seeing, and refused to get into a conversation that lasted more than a few minutes. After about two weeks, she finally admitted that an old boyfriend had proposed to her and that she was dumping me. Later, when I had my own break-ups, I was careful to avoid Holly's mistakes. I tried to make things quick and clear, and I generally sucked it up and did my dirty work face-to-face.

Still, the Holly method is actually pretty popular; in the age of e-Mail, text messaging, and cell phones, it seems somewhat old fashioned to actually conduct one's relationships in person. In fact, between webcams and social networking sites, I'm beginning to wonder if one even needs to actually meet a boyfriend or girlfriend!


For those who are particularly frightened by confrontation, there is now Sly-Dial, a service that allows one to avoid the difficulties that sometimes emerge from actual voice-to-voice communication. By dialing 267-SLY-DIAL, users can connect directly to someone's voice mail, leave a message, and get out. The service is funded by user fees or advertisements. Basically, users can either pay $0.15 for each individual call, pay a subscription fee (for the truly contact-phobic), or listen to pre-recorded advertisements before leaving their message.

Of course, even if you're not breaking up, this could be pretty helpful, particularly if you have a tendency to get sucked into long, involved conversations. Actually, this might be the ideal method for dealing with my Aunt Linda!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. His worst breakup involved a a hitched ride, a girlfriend brandishing a kitchen knife, and a forgotten Timex watch that was later returned to him in pieces. In retrospect, this would have been a good time for SLY DIAL.

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