I'm working on a book review and I have several other great ideas for posts, just waiting for me to have time to write them.
But today I have lots of work to do, so I'm going to take the easy route and just respond to Dr. Zibbs' request for stories involving practical jokes. I've already written about the best one I was ever a part of, and you can read about it here. Today's post involves ancient history from when I was a kid growing up in Florida -- just so you know I have some good memories of my childhood as well as that horrible spelling bee fiasco that I already told you about.
When I was a kid in Florida, my parents and/or my friends' parents would often leave us at home for a few hours in the evening while they went shopping or out for dinner. In those days parents often left their kids unattended for hours at a time, and were not considered to be "bad parents" or neglectful in any way. (My how times have changed). My friends and I loved this freedom. We could pop up some Jiffy Pop popcorn (this was before microwave popcorn was invented) and watch whatever we wanted on one of the 4 channels the black and white television could receive, or we could play cards or Monopoly for hours, or we could play hide and seek outside after dark, with no one to tell us to come inside.
But most often, we would spend those hours making prank telephone calls. (And here I should state that I am assuming prank telephone calls count as "practical jokes" in Dr. Zibbs' definition, since Dr. Zibbs' own example involved a telephone call).
Life was so much simpler then. There was no "caller ID" and answering machines were rare, so there was no good way for people to screen or block their phone calls and no effective way to trace a short telephone call; most people had listed telephone numbers so it was easy to call just about anyone; and we were naive enough to think no one had heard our stupid jokes before.
Of course, in some ways life was harder, too. For example, we had a rotary dial telephone, so if you were dialing a number like 899-0900, it could take you a couple of minutes. And there was no "redial" option, so if you were going to call someone more than once, you had to write down or remember the telephone number.
I know most of you remember the old standbys:
Caller: Hi, I'm from the Sears appliance department. Is your refrigerator running?
Annoyed Person on the Telephone ("APOTT"): Yes, but...
Caller: Well, you'd better go catch it quick! (hang up).
Or this gut-buster (in your best "little kid voice"):
Caller: Hi, is this directory assistance?
APOTT: No, it's not.
Caller: Well, can you help me anyway? 'Cause I'm really scared (sobb, sniff). Do you know the number for 911?
APOTT: ..... uh, you just call 9-1-1.
Caller: But... what's their number?!? (sobb, sniff)
APOTT: Look kid, you just dial the number 9, then 1, then 1
Caller: Why, is there an emergency? (heeeheee... click).
Or, this gem (best if there were 2 to 4 friends available to make the telephone calls, or at least one friend who was capable of different voice effects):
Caller 1: Hello, this is Marie, is Dr. Zibbs there?
APOTT: (Kind, patient voice) No, I'm sorry, there's no one here by that name.
Caller 1: Oh, ok, well thanks. (hangs up)
... 10 minutes later ....
Caller 2: Hello, this is Angie, is Dr. Zibbs available?
APOTT: (Confused voice) No, there is no one here by that name.
Caller 2: OK, thank you (hangs up)
... 10 minutes later ...
Caller 3: Hello, this is Elizabeth, is Dr. Zibbs available?
APOTT: (Somewhat annoyed voice) No, Dr. Zibbs does not live here!
Caller 3: Oh, ok, sorry to bother you (hangs up)
... 10 minutes later ...
Caller 4: Hello, this is Dr. Zibbs, have there been any calls for me?
APOTT: Now listen here you kids, stop bothering me!!!
Caller 4: (giggle, giggle, snarrrff.... hangs up).
I probably deserve to burn in hell for all the poor innocent people I bothered the crap out of when I was 8.