In the 90s and thanks largely to The Jerky Boys, my preteen and teenage self would enjoy the pastime of making prank calls. Of course, in the 80s and some of the early 90s, one could make a prank call to most residents and businesses without being detected. However, when *69 showed up, that made it scary for me and pals to make prank calls. My voice now is pretty much the same as since I was 12. I had been in that moment where I and my friends would make prank calls, and if someone *69 us back, I would be the “parent” or “big brother” to say, “Oh, that’s my (son/brother) making crank calls, I’ll take care of it.” I do recall this happening 5 times in my life and I was able to succeed with it 4 times, here is the story of the failure.
This story involves regular phones and not cell phones. This is 90s technology here. Enjoy!
One Saturday night in August 1995, I spent two nights with one of my fellow Special Ed friends, we’ll call him Damien. Damien had an older brother but I don’t remember if he was home or with friends that night. One thing I do remember is that both Damien’s parents were home and asleep. Then he decided to get the phone book and make prank calls past midnight. I was tired and I wanted to go to bed, but he was getting pissy and insistent about me also participating. So, I did a few calls myself, remembering to dial *67 prior to dialing the number. After a few, I said something like, “Okay, we did a few, can we stop now? I’m tired.” Of course, Damien wasn’t happy with my response and called me a pussy. He also told me how *67 would be our protection.
We took turns making calls to random people in the phone book, including one student in our Middle School who often made fun of us Special Ed kids at 1:45 AM. I remember we called him the second time with his mom answering the phone and Damien saying, “Fuck you, biotch!” followed by the hang-up. At 2-ish, I said I wanted to go to sleep. I’m getting tired and after an argument for about five minutes, Damien allowed me to go to sleep (on the couch in a different room). But also called me a wuss and a fucker for not wishing to participate any further.
Prior to that, Damien told me he was going to prank call some bars. I recall falling asleep quickly but was awakened quite a few times by Damien with the phone, saying I’m about to call this place (bar/hotel/somebody) and you better say something. He got a hotel on the phone and put the phone by me, a male voice said (title of hotel) Hotel, how can I help you? I said fuck off, he said, “Yeah, fuck you too, punk.” Then I reached out to press the hang-up button. Then asked Damien, “Can I just go back to sleep?” He did allow that the three or four times he did this but also called me a wuss, a pansy, and a pussy. Damien sure was pissy with me for not wanting to go along further with the prank call marathon.
One of these calls Damien woke me up for was an apartment complex. Not for me to say something awful but for the unique beep the answering machine had. He woke me up saying, “Hey, listen to this beep this apartment complex has.” Click here to hear it. I do remember which complex he called but I’ll keep that info out of here.
Around 5am (yes, he was going for a few hours after I ‘quit’), I hear the phone ring and Damien saying “Oh, shit.” After a couple of rings, he goes to me and starts tapping me on the shoulder with, “Dude, someone’s calling back. Do your thing.” I was quite confused on what was going on and I said, “What time is it?” “It’s almost 5, dude, it’s that one bar that I called at 2:30a.” So I take the call to hear a gruff male voice and he was asking about my reservation. I gave him the “I think that’s my son and his friends screwing around on the phone. I’ll take care of it, sorry about this.” He said he wasn’t happy with what happened and advised me to get my ‘son and his friends under control.’ I apologized again and we said bye.
I later told Damien perhaps he should end it. After a minute of trying to convince him to stop, the phone rings again. He goes back into the living room. looks at the Caller ID and Damien says, “It’s that guy again.” Damien hands me the phone and I’m a deer-in-headlights on this one. Confused and Damien silently urged me to do my magic again. At the fourth ring, Damien answers it and all I can hear is Damien’s side of the conversation. Damien’s mom wakes up, goes into the other room with me sitting up. She asks me in an insolent tone, “Who have you been calling?”
I did the shit thing and threw Damien under the bus, saying, “He called somebody.”
Me and Damien’s mom heard his side of the convo and I do recall Damien telling the guy, “My name? I can’t give you my name.” After the hang-up, Damien’s mom asked who he was calling. Damien replied, “A restaurant.” Damien’s Mom demands why, and he sobbingly said, “I don’t know.” He began to sob big time while his mom read the riot act to him and later me. The phone rings again and she answers it, I thought it was that same guy. But instead, it was the Sheriff’s Department (oh shit)! I would later learn that Damien prank-called a local hospital and tried his Sol Rosenburg impression. I do recall waking up once with him saying on the phone, “I blew my hand off with a firecracker!”
One could say my attempt to sound like an adult when the prank call victim *69’ed us back didn’t work. I guess he didn’t buy our lie.
We went to bed and I do recall us waking up at 12:59 PM. When we got up and walked to the living room, Damien’s mom and stepdad told me to get my bag. And I’m going home real soon. I was living with my aunt and uncle at the time and they were not home most Sunday mornings and early afternoons. The two didn’t say they were or weren’t going to tell my ‘parents’ about our prank call fest.
I don’t recall if the mom or stepdad or both of them drove me home that day. But I do recall I was hoping it was just his stepdad. Damien’s mom was more strict and pissy and his stepdad was more laid back. Anyways, when they took me home, my aunt and uncle weren’t home, so they could tell them at the time. I feared there was going to be a phone call to them, but that never happened.
If I could do it all again, I would’ve stopped being Damien’s friend on that very day. I really didn’t like him waking me up constantly and calling me weak for not wanting to make prank calls all the way until 5am. But sadly, I was a Special Ed kid who had very few friends. And I saw that small number of friends as a hot commodity at that time. I gave up on that for the most part in the summer of 1998. It got a little more hardcore in early 1999 when I got the boot from East Detroit High School. There was a time in 2013-14 when I was trying to get some local Facebook fame by following a few bar bands around in the Detroit area. Gave that up during the summer of 2014.
Damien did move out of the state and I stopped talking to him around 98.
With our situation, I guess it could be worse. Take a look at this video from Feb 2016: