What I'm Wearing is None of Your Business, Mister

Remember obscene phone calls? I’m glad they’re obsolete now. No one gets or makes obscene phone calls in 2010 and I, for one, am glad. The trend didn’t make the leap to texts or emails. I guess even creepy people see it as the pointless effort it always was. Plus now we are blessed with things like Internet porn and Sex Chat Addicts Anonymous chat rooms (how, exactly, is that supposed to help?) so you can now indulge in skeevy behavior all by yourself with your own computer and not involve any unwitting, innocent bystanders.

For those of you who were born after 1980 and who are unfamiliar with the concept, obscene phone calls were what you would do if you were an obsessed, creepy stalker who couldn’t get a real date with a willing girl. You would call up somebody and whisper something sexual into the phone, hoping to shock and sicken her.

They were the older, darker brother of prank calls, which were just a way for junior high kids to annoy and inconvenience drug store clerks and other adults.

I grew up in a house full of girls and we got our share of obscene phone calls. More than one was the old standard, “What are you wearing” call, which I still can’t figure out. What am I wearing? What do you think I’m wearing? It’s 1974. Jeans and a t-shirt! Gosh. [Click]

When I was 15, our phone rang in the middle of the night and I stumbled out of bed, walked into the kitchen and answered the phone. This was in ancient times, when there was not a phone in every room of the house and in every hip pocket. The Phone was an off-white metal rectangle hanging on the kitchen wall right next to the bulletin board. When it rang, which was often, since we didn’t have email and cell phones yet, you had to get up from wherever you were, go into the kitchen and answer it.

“Hello?”  I was unaware that it was the middle of the night. I hadn’t looked at The Clock, another mid-century device that was in short supply.

The caller said he was an old friend of my sister’s and he had just seen her engagement notice in the paper and wanted to call to say “congratulations!”  Except he didn’t say “congratulations!”  He started a long conversation with me that required that I sit down at the kitchen table and get into details about how old I was and how many other sisters we had. He already knew quite a bit about my sister, thanks to the thorough society page ladies who wrote the engagement announcement. It had gone into great detail about where my sister went to school, who she was the daughter of, and when and where the wedding would take place. The conversation ended with him asking me, “What are you wearing?”

“Jeans and a t-shirt.” I blurted it out before even thinking.

Looking back, this poor guy was an obscene call amateur, probably at Beginner Level 1-A of obscene phone calling. Because after I told him I was wearing something that was not a silk negligee or a garter belt and 5-inch heels or anything from Frederick’s of Hollywood, he continued the conversation, saying, “Well, just tell your sister congratulations and I hope the wedding goes well and everything.” I think he actually did care a little bit about my sister’s marriage and the wedding going smoothly. I mean, we talked for a long time and I think he got to know our family a little bit better.

I think I might have said, “OK, nice talking to you. Bye!” It wasn’t until the next morning when I recounted the conversation to my mom, who asked what the call was during the night, that I realized it had been an obscene phone call.

It was some guy who called because he saw the engagement announcement.

“What did he say?” He asked me what I was wearing.

“Ew.”  Ew.

My only consolation was that Beginner Obscene Phone Call Guy, upon hearing “jeans and a t-shirt,” probably felt the same way.

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick can be reached by the modern-day, clean-cut method of communication called "E-mail" at diane.laney.fitzpatrick@gmail.com.

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