who dat? contest
In early high school I got my own phone line. That was a huge luxury my poor-ass was afforded, and I used it constantly. And as I was probably the first to have a line where parents answering was never a risk, my answering machine was like the hub of my circle of friends. I became the go-to guy. Drunk at 2am call Stee. Just got dumped call Stee. Feel like swearing a lot on someones machine call Stee. And with all this verbal activity, I was smart.
I saved all of it.
Yes, I have about 30 to 40 full-length tapes filled with answering machine messages. Three years of high school and every winter/spring/summer break from college. All on tape. All marked. All evidence.
I pull them out and listen to them every once in a while when Im back home. I drive around in my moms car and pass by old friends houses, ex-girlfriends apartments, past scenes of the crime.
These tapes are better than a diary. More evocative than photos. More exhaustive than saved letters (all of which I also have). Though I tried to rewind at the time, hence erasing boring messages as they came in, I have a good amount of those: requests, reminders, where are yous, call mes. For me they are fascinating to listen to. I listen to one and say, oh yeah, that was sophomore year and I was doing x play and oh yeah, I havent heard her voice in years, and oh god I remember the cast party, and that was when I was away playing at the Monterey Jazz Festival and then I went to Xs house to find her waiting for me in her hot tub and I caught a cold because of the warm water/hot skin/cold air but it didnt matter because her.
And those are the boring ones.
Then there are the good ones. The sobbing call from Cynthia that her boyfriend just broke up with her and she was thinking of killing herself. The stoned rambling confession of love from a friend I had never, until then, thought of in that way. A whispered late night description of a fight that Devin had just been in and his hand is bleeding and he thinks he might have really hurt the guy and where are you? A few one-way phone sex calls from my then girlfriend. A drunken message from myself rambling about JFK and a girl I liked and, remember this time. Remember this. This is the time. A series of 30 middle of the night messages from a woman with whom I had just had a crazy affair in New York which by force of will and air travel then continued in California for a 36-hour stint. Her calls chart a trip up the West Coast on her way home to Alaska. Um its me. In Eureka. Um. Bye. / Hi. Oregon. Shit. I hate this. Bye. / Im in Seattle. Listen do you shit. / Hi. Im in Sitka. I just need to know Fuck. OK. Well. Bye. / And then 20 hang-ups, with the tell-tale Alaska click just after connection. The occasional Sigh. I saw her in New York months later. She had changed. She would be found passed out in a doorway in Soho weeks later. She had a nervous breakdown soon after and moved back to Alaska.
These voices literally from my past, are creepy. And sad. And hypnotic.
And I want to do something with them. I have a lot of ideas, but what would you do?
were done. I have the tape ready to be dubbed into a million VHS copies. Im thrilled.
The Larry King Happy
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