Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

An open letter to the kid who keeps crank calling my cell phone November 16, 2008

I have the same taste in TV as a 13-year old boy. Don't even get me started about how much I loved "Rob and Big."

I have the same taste in TV as a 13-year old boy. Don't even get me started about how much I loved 'Rob and Big'.

Look, I get it. When I was a kid, I was an inimitable crank caller. In hindsight, I may have even been an addict. It was my #1 pastime in the seventh grade, and I looked forward to going over to Kim’s house and lighting up the phone lines. I would even argue that I was quite good at it – people would stay on the line for an incredible amount of time, or hand the phone to their co-workers or housemates saying, “You’ve got to hear this!” My two best routines were:

  1. “The company potluck”
    1. I’d call and immediately start in about, “Hi. It’s me. I just don’t know what to bring to the company potluck tomorrow.” Then I would rattle off a variety of options at lightening speed, and then – depending upon my mood – I would go into a whole bit about how I might bring fruit salad and should I put bananas in it and what if people don’t like bananas and how should I cut the bananas? You get the idea. Extreme speed talking wherein the other person cannot get a word in edgewise was critical to the success of this call. When I finally would pause to breathe, usually what they had to say was either vulgar or hilarious (and often both).
  2. “Darth Vader is in my house”
    1. This one was admittedly stupid, but it still makes me chuckle to myself. In this case, you call in a real panic repeating that Darth Vader is in your house (which is very confusing to the other person) and once they finally understand and say, “What? DARTH VADER?” you put your accomplice on the phone who does the heavy Darth Vader breathing and maybe a “Luke, I am your father.” I don’t know if the people getting these calls think it’s funny, but I sure did.

(Side note: You can also substitute Darth Vader with the Hamburgler. In that case, your assistant needs to get on and say, “Robble robble” or however you interpret whatever it is that the Hamburgler says. They must do this without bursting into uncontrollable laughter, which is actually a lot harder than it sounds)

My fall from grace came because I put too much faith in my co-cranker, Kim. You see, she developed a crush on a boy down the street (let’s call him Dwayne, which I believe may have been his actual name), and since I always let her do the dialing as I psyched myself up for my audience, what I didn’t realize was that we were calling his house again and again and again. This was in the late 80s, so it wasn’t too hard to figure out where the calls were coming from. All I remember is my mother’s red and enraged face after Dwayne’s mother came by our house to yell at me. Oops.

Anyway, kids will be kids, and I don’t have a problem with the occasional crank call. It’s karma. However, I do have some standards if you’re going to waste my time and my cell minutes. So to the adolescent boy that keeps calling me, I offer some free tips:

  1. The #1 rule of crank calling is never give up. If you get a live person on the phone, you keep them on for as long as humanly possible. That’s the whole point. THEY’RE supposed to hang up, not you.
  2. Do your research: If you want me to believe my number is on Craig’s List as selling a gun from the Civil War, don’t claim I’m asking $30 for it. Have you never seen “Antiques Roadshow”? Turn on PBS and check it out. A gun from the American Civil War would be worth at least thirty THOUSAND (that’s $30,000, Einstein) dollars.
  3. It’s never to early to learn to curb your “ummmmms”. When you get older, people will start counting how many times you say “ummmmm” and laughing at you. They may be doing this already. Since you obviously cannot think on your feet and use “ummmmm” in excess to fill the gaps, maybe consider writing a script before you call me?
  4. Speaking of which, could you please rent a couple ‘Crank Yankers’ DVDs and learn what it means to be funny? Calling and leaving me messages that your ‘wife has breast cancer and is really freaked out’ isn’t funny.  First off, you don’t even get to hear my reaction, so what’s in it for you? Second, and perhaps more importantly, It’s twisted and maybe a sign that your parents should get you a child psychiatrist.
  5. I have a cell phone plan with limited minutes, so could you maybe call the land line at my house instead? Much obliged.