Thursday, September 04, 2008

You Are Small And Unimportant, But Occasionally Funny

My kid brother fumbles through every day of his life convinced the world is out to get him. Every one of life's annoying little pains in the ass is greeted as the latest bit of evidence that he is the unluckiest person on earth. To the layperson, this seems like a horrible, depressing way to live. But once you get to know him, you realize that, actually, he might just be the most fortunate person you've ever met. This juxtaposition makes his incessant pissing and moaning hysterical, even if he is too busy cursing his lot in life to appreciate the humor. So it goes for The Boy, the tragicomic anti-superhero.

Boy sent me some sadpanda emails last week about lousy recent blog posts. He thinks I've become a snob. To prove my undying love for him, and to help ease the pain of his life of suffering and injustice, I present this story, the funniest thing Boy has ever done.

The year is 1994. More or less. Something like that. Boy is in high school, and I am not. Caller ID is not all that popular yet. So that sounds about right.

We have two phone lines in our house. One for the kids, one for the parents. Most phones in the house have little buttons that say Line 1 and Line 2. They are for, you guessed it, Line 1 and Line 2.

Stay with me.

Boy and his friend Danny would dial a friend's number on Line 1, then put the call on hold. They would switch to Line 2, and dial another friend's number. They would then conference the two lines, put both calls on speakerphone, and press the mute button.

For a brief second, both lines are ringing. Then the person on Line 1 picks up the phone and says "Hello?" But instead of a response, they only hear the other phone ringing. This is a strange experience when it happens to you, and it always confuses the person. "That's not what's supposed to happen when I answer the phone! What the hell is going on here?! This phone is crazy!"

There is something compelling about the sound of a ringing telephone line, so the first caller almost always stays on the line. In due time, the person on Line 2 answers their phone. "Hello?"

Confusion ensues.

"Did you call me?"


"My phone was ringing, and I answered it. But when I picked it up, all I heard was your line ringing."

"Dude! The same thing happened to me! Oh my god!"

You see, it's perplexing. Life is complicated, but most people can say they're pretty confident that they've solved all the mysteries of telephones. Yet here they are, confronted with some kind of zombie superphone, and they're dumbstruck. But because it's their friend on the line, they just laugh and eventually hang the phone up.

"Well, that was weird. Talk to you later."

"Okay, bye."

But then it gets better.

What if the people you call aren't friends? What if they're strangers? The confusion factor increases, as does the suspicion.

"Who the fuck are you? What have you done with my phone?!"

"Who the fuck are YOU? What have you done with MY phone?!"


But then it gets much better.

What if the people aren't friends, nor strangers, but merely connected in some way? Say, people who would recognize each other, but have no business calling each other? Like, for instance, your English teacher, and another kid in your class? Or, my personal favorite-

Line 1: (ringing)

Line 2: (ringing)

Line 1: "Thank you for calling Pizza Hut, can I take your order?"

Line 2: (ringing)

Line 1: "Huh?"

Line 2: "Thank you for calling Dominos, can I take your order?"

(tears hole in the fabric of spacetime)

But then it gets much, much better.

What if the people aren't friends, but enemies? What if it's, say, a guy you hate, and his ex-girlfriend?

Line 1: (ringing)

Line 2: (ringing)

Line 1: "Hello?"

Line 2: (ringing)

Line 1: "Oh well, at least it wasn't Mikey calling me again."

Line 2: "Hello?"

Line 1: "Mikey?!"


Boy, you're a small, unimportant, angry little person. But you're a pretty funny guy sometimes.