Or So it Seems … April Fools – Phone Fun With JD

To celebrate “April Fools,” Robb has released his latest book as a free download for two days only—Tuesday April 1st and Wednesday April 2nd. Visit Amazon.com and look for “Potholes On Memory Lane “or check this link.

My brother JD is a prankster without peer.

Oh, sure, he looks innocent. He’s quiet, and has always had a baby-faced, angelic countenance. But don’t be fooled. That’s one of his secret super-powers.

The other is his ability to mimic voices and impersonate just about anyone. These skills and his impish personality have led to much mischief.

My little brother started acting up early on. In middle school, JD would wait for Mom to go shopping, leaving him unattended. Then he’d pull out the Yellow Pages and use them for “Phone Fun.”

And what’s “Phone Fun?” It’s his term, describing how to amuse yourself by annoying others.

Here are some examples.

Once JD prank-called the Toy Circus, a Bakersfield business that had its own TV show. He pretending to be a small child and begged to talk to the store’s mascot, a sock-puppet called the “Monkey Lion.”

“Is the Monkey-Lion there?” JD asked in his highest falsetto.

“No, I’m sorry, Dearie” said a woman with a warm, comforting voice. “He’s out right now. But you can see him on your TV tomorrow.”

“Oh, but I really, really, really wanted to talk to him.”

“What’s your name?” the kind woman asked.

“Timmy,” JD said.

“Well, Timmy. I can surely tell him you called, and if you give me your address, he can send you a picture.”

“But I don’t know my address.” (Fake crying)

“Well, then, why don’t you put your mother on the phone?”

“I haven’t got a mother.” (Loud fake crying)

“Oh, Timmy. I’m so sorry. Is there anyone there who I can talk to?”

“No. I’m alone.” (Whimpering)

“Oh, that’s terrible. So there’s no one there?”

“Wait. Yes. (Gasp) There’s someone hiding in the corner!” (Sudden screaming, a loud maniacal laugh, and then JD hung up.)

Alfred Hitchcock had nothing on my brother.

And the fake-little-kid wasn’t his only routine. He also loved to impersonate various grownups. One of his favorite alter-egos was a menacing police office.

Here’s how that prank worked.

JD would flip through the white pages, stab his finger down on a random number, and dial it up.

Here’s one such call:

Victim: “Hello.”

JD: “Is this the Skyle’s residence?”

Victim: “Yes. Who’s calling?”

JD: “This is officer Sadanko of the Bakersfield Police Dept. We’re conducting a criminal investigation, and I need to ask you a few questions.”

Victim: “About what?”

JD: “I’m afraid I can’t reveal that information. Perhaps you should put your son on the line.”

Victim: “Why? What’s he done?”

JD: “Has he been a passenger in a blue Chevy pickup?”

Victim: “Wait. Who is this?”

JD: “Sadanko. Badge number 86.”

Victim: (Shouting at son, “Jay get in here.”) “Do I need an attorney?”

JD: “Not yet, Mr. Skyles. But you should bring your son to the station so we can settle this informally.”

Victim: (In a horse whisper) “Ah, when?”

JD: “Call the front desk for an appointment. Here’s the number.”

Then JD would give his victim the request-line of a popular radio station. This number was always busy.

JD loved his phone pranks so much that he recorded these conversations so he could listen to them later, playing them for the amusement of his friends.

Alas, “Phone Fun” came to an untimely end one day when Mom needed to borrow JD’s tape recorder. Being a considerate person, she spot-checked a cassette to see if it was blank.

It wasn’t.

JD came home to find Mom sitting at the table, a stack of tapes in front of her, looking grim. He asked how she was doing. Rather than answer, she pressed the “play” button, and the sound of a child crying in fake falsetto filled the room.

For a month, JD was forbidden to use the phone without supervision, and Mom made him call up the toy store and apologize.

Too bad she didn’t record that conversation.

But after chewing him out, Mom felt sorry for him, and disclosed some juicy tidbits about about her misspent youth.

“We’d call the store, and ask them, ‘Do you have Sir Walter Raleigh in a can?’” Mom said. “And it was always best when they’d have to put the phone down to check.”

She stopped, smiled, and had a far-away look in her eyes.

“Then they’d come back and say, ‘Yes, we do.’ And we’d shout ‘Well, you’d better let him out,’ and hang up.”

JD and I laughed.

“And,” Mom added, “You’d call back later and ask them if their refrigerator was running. If they said ‘yes,’ then you’d say ‘Well, you’d better go catch it.’”

Mom’s mixed messages didn’t make her the most effective disciplinarian. Still, Mom apparently thought she’d humbled him and broken JD of his problematic proclivities. And she did, for a while….

But then he moved out, got a job, and began his old tricks with a few new twists—sound effects. Thanks to advances in technology, JD collected gizmos that made all manner of obnoxious noises. His arsenal included machines that giggled, guffawed, snorted, sneezed, farted, as well as ones that simulated explosions and machine gun fire.

He still has many of those noisemakers, but he’s always preferred to do his own screaming.

“Some things, you just can’t farm out,” he explains.

Even now when you call him, you never know quite what to expect. Sometimes the phone will quit ringing, you’ll hear a shriek, gunfire, or an explosion, and then the line will go dead. Other times, a confused little-old-lady answers and you think you’ve reached a wrong number. So you apologize, but before you can dial him up again, he’ll call you back, laughing.

Such a great use of the acting talents he developed in high school.

Years ago, there was a time that JD had an oilfield job which required long, boring hours. He was alone, usually, logging trucks in and out of a waste disposal. His only companion was a multi-line phone, and a box full of sound-effect gadgets. He used them to good effect. On slow days, he’d dial up two numbers, and while they were both still ringing, connect them with the conference-call feature. Then he’d wait silently on the line. The callers were faced with a puzzling situation that sounded something like this:

Line 1: “Hello.”

Line 2: “Who’s calling?”

Line 1: “Who’s calling who?”

Line 2: “You?”

Line 1: “You, who?”

Line 2: “You who called me?”

Line 1: “But you called me!”

Line 2: “No, I didn’t.”

Line 1: “Look. My phone rang. I answered it, and now I’m talking to you.”

Line 2: “I didn’t call you.”

Line 1: “Well somebody did.”

Line 2: “Who.”

Line 1: “You, that’s who?”

During his glory days, JD could get three or ever four people going in circles. Or so he says. There’s no recordings of these calls. (I wonder why.) He passed many an hour in this manner. But, sadly, it came to an end when caller ID and *69 came along. The days of anonymous dialing were over, and he had to hang up his receiver.

Technology giveth, and then it taketh away.

Recently I asked him if he missed all this, and he reminded me that phone pranks were only part of his repertoire. In high school, he briefly ran his own “contracting business” called Mothers Funeral. For a fee, JD or one of his, ah, associates would show up in a ski mask, and plant a “pie” in the face of someone you didn’t like.

Although it was profitable, he quit the business before the high school authorities could trace the trail of whipped cream back to the culprits.

But he has other stories, too many to tell here, and some that can’t be shared until the statute of limitations runs out.

So, when April 1st rolls around, I’ll make sure I call and wish him a happy day. Whoever dreamed up “April Fools” holiday surely had him in mind.

But I will have to brace myself when the phone stops ringing. I never know what will greet me on the other end. Will it be an explosion? A shriek? Or the voice of Sgt. Sadanko demanding that I report to Precinct #2 and answer a few questions regarding the whereabouts of Sir Walter Raleigh?

I can’t wait to find out.

Robb has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to his weekly column on A News Cafe – “Or So it Seems™” – Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the Funny Times. His short stories have won honorable mention national competition. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-ten finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives, writes and teaches in Shasta County. He can be reach at robb@robblightfoot.com.

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Robb Lightfoot is a humorist, author and educator. He and his wife raised a family of four kids, a dozen or more dogs and a zillion cats. He has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to teaching at Shasta Community College, and his former column on A News Cafe - "Or So it Seems™" - Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the "Funny Times". His short stories have won honorable mention in national competitions. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-10 finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives and writes in Chico where he manages ThinkingFunny.com. He also hates referring to himself in the third person, and will stop doing so immediately. I can be reached in the following ways: Robb@thinkingfunny.com PO Box 5286 Chico, CA 95928 @_thinking_funny on Twitter
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11 Responses

  1. Avatar LovestoEat says:

    I can’t wait for the free download of “Potholes”. Nothing like lying in bed giggling and keeping my partner awake & guessing what’s on the e-reader, thanks again for a freebie Robb.

    • Avatar Robb says:

      Thanks. I do hope you enjoy it. The stories are all drawn from last year. My daughter Amanda helped edit it, to clean up some stylistic inconsistencies. Today I’m shipping it off with my entry form for the Thurber Prize, the one award for book-length humor.

      The deadline is, appropriately enough, April 1. Won’t know until September if I made the cut. But it’s fun trying. 🙂

  2. Avatar Grammy says:

    Now is “Pot Holes” another prank and what we really get is “Sucker It’s April Fools”. He must have been a real challenge to live with. Never knowing if a boy you really liked called. That could be embarrassing.
    But on the flip side, NO one took him seriously. If a bully picked on him at school. If he had REALLY gotten lost and ended up at a police station. Mom would have said, “Okay I do not know who you are but I know my Son. Tell him to come home right now and to stop this none sense.”
    “But lady your Son is here at the Bakersfield police station and need to be picked up.”
    Mom, “Okay now I know this is a farce. JD I know you are listening, young man get your butt home right now. You are in major trouble.”
    “Lady I don’t know what kind of problem you have with your Son but he needs you right now or he will have to be put in foster care.”
    Mom, “Fine with me. JD I call your bluff, see you in foster care. Now if you are through playing this game get home now.”

    Yep life could have been a lot different for JD if somewhere along the line he needed to have someone take him serious.

    • Avatar Robb says:

      I’ll let my brother tell you what happened to him in the latter part of high school when he grew his hair out long and “looked like trouble.”

      True story. One time I was selling a car with a newspaper ad, and my sister kept hanging up on potential buyers because she thought they were my brother using his fake voices. Yes, living with him could have some “hidden costs.”

  3. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    Potholes is now firmly ensconced in my Kindle . . . hope it makes good bed time reading!!

  4. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    O.K., Robb, No wise-acre remarks about ‘Pot holes’ and bed time . . . .

  5. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Back when I lived and worked in Sacramento, my boss Gary—an avid and able golfer—was set to attend a professional society meeting in another city. On April Fools Day I mocked up a phone memo from the president of the professional society. The fake message requested that Gary return the call ASAP, because the president of the society wanted Gary to organize a golf scramble on the day before the meetings began. Gary called the president, eager to accept the assignment. The president responded that he had no idea what Gary was talking about.

    Gary stormed into the common area of the office, beet red, wanting to know who took the message and how that person could screw up a phone memo so badly. Our office manager looked at the memo and said, “That’s Steve’s handwriting. I think you need to take a closer look at the date.”

    I didn’t get fired.

    • Avatar Robb Lightfoot says:

      GREAT STORY.

      Then there’s the trick of sneaking in and forwarding someone’s phone to another “interesting” number, say a massage parlor. Oh, the possibilities.

      My favorite, no-phone technology prank, was when a co-worker saw a colleague’s laptop up and running… and not secured. He acted quickly, and downloaded the sound of a person moaning (with pleasure). He then set ALL system sounds to trigger this. The funny part of this is that the laptop was then taken to a meeting, where it was used to make a PowerPoint presentation, and in the middle of the presentation something happened that made the machine moan. The harder the presenter tried to stop it, the more it moaned.

      And as you say, it’s lucky nobody got fired over THAT!

      PS It wasn’t me. Really.

  6. Avatar Robb Lightfoot says:

    No joke, free book. Here’s the link to “Potholes.” It’s a free download today April 1 and tomorrow, the 2nd. http://amzn.to/1pEDLM0

  7. Avatar Robb Lightfoot says:

    What a surprise… I was awakened at 5 am when the phone rang.

    It was Officer Sadanko…