Friday, August 5, 2011

The Friends of Friends Society

Back in the day, before we even had a cordless phone and cell phones were unheard of, I made all of my telephone calls on the rotary phone that hung on the wall of our kitchen.  I don't know about you, but I find something very satisfying about dialing a number on a rotary phone, hooking your finger in each hole and hearing the sound of it swing back.  And, back then you had to actually know people's phone numbers because they weren't programmed in. 

I miss the days when being on the phone meant that I was confined to the area in reach of the phone's tightly coiled cord, which was either the stove or the basement doorway, both very exciting in their own right. Or when the hot new "app" for a phone (if you can even call it that) was call waiting.  Being a very chatty middle school student who spent lots of time on the phone, I begged my parents to get call waiting.  I tried to appeal to an area of concern that all parents are attuned to, which is safety.  "What if someone gets hurt/dies/has a car accident (you can think of any other dire emergency and I probably used it) and someone can't get through because I'm on the phone?" 

But, my Dad, being a simple man, did not understand why you would want to talk to two people when you can just talk to one.  This was a recurring theme with my Dad: Air conditioning? Why would you want that when you can just sit by a fan?  He also at one point owned ten pairs of the exact same shorts because, you guessed it, why try new styles when this one works so well?

Speaking of simplicity, a rotary phone meant that there was no caller id, which is perfect for executing a prank call.  And, there is no better time to do a prank call than at a sleepover when the parents are asleep.  The best prank call scheme I ever pulled off was at a sleepover at my friend Bethany's house.  Instead of just calling people, saying something stupid, and then hanging up, we created a whole storyline that went something like this:  We would begin the call by stating that we were calling from the Friends of Friends Society, a, to my knowledge, completely made up organization.  We would then explain that a friend of theirs (who would remain anonymous should they ask) had nominated them to attend our picnic where everyone could meet "friends of friends"--get it?  Did I mention that this was coming from the minds of 5th graders?  We even went to such lengths as to pick a date and location for this made up picnic.  And, if anyone was still on the line at this point, we would ask them if they could bring a covered dish to share.  Sounds like fun, right?

So, we began taking turns calling random people as representatives of the Friends of Friends Society.  Some people hung up on us, some people yelled at us, but some people actually stayed on the line and continued to talk to us.  The sad thing was that we actually thought that the people we were talking to believed us.  After each call we would roll around the kitchen, laughing hysterically at our clever ruse.

Some things we failed to take into consideration:
1.  It was the middle of the night (a perfectly normal time to receive a call of this nature, right?)
2.  We sounded like children because we WERE children.
3.  Our idea was completely absurd.

I will never forget the one woman that I spoke to.  She sounded elderly, and she seemed genuinely surprised and delighted to receive the Friends of Friends Society picnic invitation at one in the morning.  She listened to everything I said, and even agreed to bring potato salad to the event, which I said was a great choice.  When I began to rattle off the date, time, and location, she stopped me saying she needed to grab something so she could write it down.  SUCCESS! 

Well, at least initially.  But, in the days that followed, my conscience (as usual) began to get the better of me, and I started to feel very remorseful about the whole thing.  What if these people really showed up?  What if that woman went to the trouble to actually make potato salad?  What had we DONE!?  I agonized over an image of an old woman sitting all alone on a picnic table with her covered dish.



The only way that I have lived with myself all these years is the hope that people really did show up to Jefferson Lake that day, that they ate potato salad, had a good time, and, most importantly, made new friends.  Because that's what the Friends of Friends Society is all about.

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