That time I accidentally listened to a sex call.
This is an entirely true story.
Sunday night on January 16th 1994.
No, really. I remember the night.
See, cause it was going to be the world premiere of the new Smashing Pumpkins video, “Disarm,” on 120 minutes that night so we were staying up. And I know the specific date because I woke up a few hours after falling asleep thinking a cat had jumped on the bed, but it had actually been the Northridge Earthquake. (This is life in California where you mistake earthquakes for cats sometimes.) (This is because I am several hours away from Northridge. I am fairly certain the people living in that area were able to tell the difference.) (But since the vast, vast majority of earthquakes are small ones, I really do often think it’s just a cat or a really big truck outside.)
But the point is that it was the 1990’s and I had not yet developed phone phobia (although answering machines gave me panic attacks) and so I was on the phone ALL THE TIME ALWAYS. And I had a cordless phone very similar to the one pictured above. It had different “channels” so that if you got a bad connection you could try a different channel and hopefully it would be clearer. And it might be. If you were within 6 feet of the base. Life was hard in the 90’s okay?
Occasionally, when I’d change the channel I’d accidentally switch to a neighbor’s channel and hear their conversation. 90% of the time that this happened to me, it was to a Spanish conversation which I could not understand.
Except this one time.
120 Minutes was one of the few worthwhile things on MTV at the time. There was also Daria and… No, those might have been the two. I think VH1 was arguably cooler than MTV even as early as 1994. And this particular night was an important 120 Minutes and because it was the Sunday night before a school holiday, I was allowed to actually stay up to watch it and not set the VCR to record it onto a tape. I mean. I totally ALSO recorded it. But staying up not only allowed me to watch it live, but also to press pause during commercials and therefore optimize my recorded copy.
So Kathy and I chatted all night. We usually told each other stories about how we’d meet Natalie Merchant (me) or Morrissey (her) after a concert some night and become besties. Somewhere around 10pm my phone started to go fuzzy so I told Kathy to hang on and I’d see if I could change the channel and get a clearer connection. Only when I changed the channel, instead of Kathy, I heard, “Press 1 if you want to talk to a sexy girl.” And because I was 15 and extremely innocent and naive I definitely did NOT want to hear someone talking to a sexy girl and this is where this story becomes anti-climactic and I am very sorry for that. However, if you followed my cordless phone drama on Facebook while I was writing this post I hope this will help ease the lack of resolution here. This is almost exactly the phone in question:
And these, my friends, are the things that I remember instead of what my kids’ first words were.