Monday, June 7, 2010

In so many words

Many actors and musicians who got their start in front of a live audience later used film or the recording studio to extend their creative reach.

I know; me, too.

It’s second grade, I’m 8 years old, and Trouble is my middle name. I’ve just discovered dirty words. I’ve also discovered I’m a fair hand at prank calls, and the meeting of forbidden words with the telephone is one of those great Aha! events.

I begin with improvisation, live and without a net. I call a number, shout the mot du jour into the receiver, and hang up. This act I perform regularly and to great acclaim at sleepovers and slumber parties.

Like any artist, I grow bored with repetition. The next step is to string forbidden words in a sentence. But a string of words with stinky butt in the middle is too much hilarity for any one mortal to handle, so for a time I’m unable to complete my calls; I abort mission after mission as I and my companions gasp for air.

This inability to stay in character promises to end a short but promising career; that is, until Kim brings her tape recorder to the mix. We continue the prank calls, but now we can play my pre- recorded messages.

That works for a time, but soon, the isolated sentence wears thin. I have something big in mind – something that will include every forbidden word we’ve learned thus far, from magazines and ads, from eavesdropping, from slightly older brothers. My inspiration is the title of an advice column in Ladies Home Journal: Answers to Teens’ Questions.

This will be my magnum opus, and it takes twenty recordings to get the right take. We set it to music. Later I’ll lose the tune, but always remember the lyric:

Answers to teens' questions on
Feminine napkins, boobies, and tits, and
Damn girrrr-dullllllls,
Butts, and bras, and hairy in-betweens.


One doesn’t quickly tire of a masterpiece. We’ll dial and play this tape all summer long, until we're caught, anyway. And by that time we're pretty much over it, but we will have to listen to lectures, and my parents' favorite, "I don't even know who you are."

I could tell them -- I'm Karin, but my middle name is Trouble.

38 comments:

  1. You were a writer from the start--choosing the perfect words only after much editing and revising. "Hairy in-betweens." Really, you could still use that.

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  2. Hilarious...
    We used to do that also, but with a spin. We'd call bars and ask for funny names.

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  3. We'd go through the phonebook and call people who had last names like Suk and Butz and Lipshitz. Just to be able to say the names, I think.

    JJ

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  4. What a gas!
    You and brother Iilya would have gotten along famously. He even mastered these prank calls in Hindi.

    The rest of us are jealous that you had such a lovely/terrible middle name. I doubt my parents would have let me hang out with you!

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  5. The technical advances you made use of; a tape machine. Very clever Ms Trouble.

    When I was a kid I liked performing cold calls to strangers. The goal was to see how long I could keep them on the phone. No audience involved which is kind of sad. I also discovered that elderly people stayed on line longest, which is also kind of sad.

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  6. Hilarious!

    I never could have pulled off a stunt like this. First of all, we didn't join Ma Bell until I was in the 8th grade. Second, when we did get a phone, it was in the kitchen, where every family member could hear every word of every conversation. And third, I don't think I even knew about "hairy in betweens" at that age.

    But I did think that the boy who lived next door was the most clever on earth because he called me "Poopy Susie."

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  7. Poopy Susie, that made me laugh.

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  8. Favorite line: "like any artist I grow bored by repetition"

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  9. REALLY nice moving from one part to another here! How many times have I said that? But it's such a cool way to build plot or tension and expectation and then surprise. You don't even have to kill off characters. Just surprise us. Very enjoyable! "Stinky butt." Scandalous! Ditto your magnum opus.

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  10. The father of one of my friends was a doctor, and we used to flip through some of his horrific medical books. Hence our knowledge of in-betweens.

    PA, that's kind of sweet. Whatever conversation did you have with these folks?

    (Ah Banjo, you just like it because my sentences are short.)

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  11. You funny girls!

    I agree with Miss J, telemarketers can be very disturbing .... sometimes, but sometimes also fun to chase.

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  12. Your piece had me grinning from ear to ear (and the hairy parts in between). Oh, phony phone calls. How we love them.

    We would wait till Art Linkletter was calling people for a contest and call pretending to be him. We didn't think that maybe the recipients would not buy Art in a 10-year-old voice. We also called saying we were from the bank and then we'd stage a fake bank robbery, complete with cap guns, and the gasping death of the bank teller.

    One time we called a guy and talked to him for 45 minutes. We pretended one of us was the little brother of the other. It was such fun. Only now do I shudder at what kind of adult talks to two kids for 45 minutes. But in 1958, we had no such thoughts.

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  13. OK now i"m up off the floor. GIRRRLLLL, I had a friend in college that could have gone toe to toe with you. Can't share her favorite "Calls" here but I will later.

    With caller ID I don't think you can have that much fun anymore. Loved this, but you knew that.
    V

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  14. I'll never forget when the cute guy my good friend Mary and I had anonymously prank called all through high school (yes, we were that mature) had a class with me my freshman year in college. I flirted wildly with him and he fixed a smirking gaze on me and said, "You were more effective when you were talking dirty on the phone."

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  15. I think "stupid" was my middle name!

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  16. Damn, now I know who the smart-ass kid was who called with that stupid song so many years ago. Thanks for coming clean, AH.

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  17. Laurie that's too much. I'll bet he ended up asking you out anyway.

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  18. Db, we've heard far worse confessions than mine today. In fact, I'd like to say to them -- I don't even know who you are.

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  19. If I ever get the chance to talk to telemarketers these days, I have a list...will have to find it online and share it some time...one of the lines is something like "I'm SO glad you called...I've had a day from HELL I tell you, first my mother-in-law was SUCH a b!tch when I took her for her colonoscopy..." and it goes downhill from there.

    I will admit, when I was quite small and alone, I would call the "time" recording lady and on a bad day, use all the words I'd heard my parents use at one another when I sat at the top of the stairs listening to them argue...thankfully, the time was a recorded message by that point, or I'm sure the time lady would have fainted at my language.

    But for crank calls...we had kids call us one time saying "Do you know your number is XXX-C&NT?! (tee-hee, slam)". I thought about it a minute---we hadn't had the number long and sure enough, 2868 does spell that lovely word and to this day, almost 10 years after we stopped using that number, I remember it because of those kids. I always wished I could have called them back and thanked them, but it was before we had call return available.

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  20. Don't look at me. I gave up crank phone calls when I was 55.

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  21. Trish: 2868. I'll have to remember that. Maybe you could make a glossary showing the numbers for all the words!

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  22. I was looking at a book of logarithms the other day and got busted for possession of pornography.

    Talk dirty numbers to me!

    I'm here all week, try the veal!

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  23. I love it when you speak French, KB.

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  24. What did kids, do before the invention of the telephone?

    "I don't even know who you are." Classic.

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  25. I don't think kids can have fun like this anymore - they're too closely supervised. But what were our parents doing while we were getting up to naughty things with our freinds? At the age of 8, I wrote in a school journal that my mother smoked, drank beer and played cards all day. She was mad with me but I didn't understand why.

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  26. "One doesn’t quickly tire of a masterpiece" - I have re-read this a dozen times, and you have written a hysterically funny masterpiece!

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  27. boobies AND tits. That's quite an accomplishment.

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  28. Laughing out loud throughout this!!! I do remember making those prank calls...though I have to say it was modeled to me by my dad...if someone would call during dinner, he loved to say "Mort's Mortuary, you stab 'em, we slab 'em!" Geeeze...I loved my dad!!!

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  29. Mister Earl...didn't even occur to us until the kids called us.

    I believe the original AT&T, PacBell etc had lists of what numbers could spell. You *can* request your name or something specific---and if they have it available, you're welcome to it---I think for a fee.

    Somehow, I suspect this request might be refused, ala license plates with such special wording...

    don't get me started on logarithms and porn.

    I used to known for picking up the phone "FBI"...I would tell friends who said that was "impersonating" that it stood for "Fuzz Busters International"...aligned vaguely after the International Banana Club...but I digress. It did slow down some telemarketers.

    wv: mispitin----my youth was mispitin on crank calls and being a junior hand director of the IBC...

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  30. Earl,
    I love it when you prank call. Go on. .......:)
    V

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  31. Who knew so many had such fond memories of techno-abuse? Every time you write about your childhood I'm reminded of my own and then I get to laugh at myself - with good reason!

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  32. Paula, I rather expected most of these folks were up to no good back in the day (or in Trish's case, back in this day).

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  33. I would be remiss in not mentioning what we assumed were Russians calling us at 3am our time, often only during the week when we had to get to work in a few hours, yes, often in the deep of our REM sleep.

    It got so bad I used an old trick. When going to bed, we unplugged all the phones, then set a fax machine to turn on at 2:45a and pickup on the 1st ring. It took a few weeks, but they stopped calling. eventually. Must have been the 2868 number they were hot for!

    Worked well later for whomever was calling us around 3:30a and hanging up too. sigh.

    and, for the record, I was called ma'am today...feeling rather old...perhaps it is time to prank someone just to have some fun...

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