Not Really a Repost

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I first posted this song back when Daddy was sick, and the original content wasn’t where I am right now.  Things are different.  And the same, since I’ve been dealing with Mom’s illnesses and recovery this year.  (I’m sending out an emphasis on the recovery part just in case the Universe happens to be listening.)  Life keeps moving, whether you stop and pay attention or not.

We got the phone thing from a few days ago straightened out today.  Turns out the jack had gone bad, so a nice tech from Verizon replaced it, and I’ll have to pay extra since I don’t have the “indoor line maintenance plan” (Way to soak your customers, Verizon!).  But the phone works, and I went ahead and got a new phone so we’ll only have one system (one fewer handsets, but that’s cool).  Other than that, things are quiet.  Not too quiet, since I’ve got a ton of reading to do for school and the holiday is coming up.  (Yes, it’s almost time for Arlo Guthrie again.)

But if you happen to spot newer and bluer meanies in your vicinity, remember to go out singing.

“Telephone Song”

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Wanna hear something goofy?

About a half hour ago, I decide to give my aunt a call to ask her a question (about fudge, if you must know).  When I pick up the cordless handset to my landline (yes, I still have one), the little screen on the phone says, in this order:

1 Missed Call (not unusual; something to do with telemarketers and robocalls)

No Line

Line in Use

There is no dial tone on the handset.  I check another handset in the office, same thing.  I check the one in Mom’s room, same thing.  Okay, obviously something is wrong with the line, and I’m just about to get online to contact Verizon about it, when I decide to try one more thing.

See, when Mom moved in we merged telephone systems.  That’s not as complicated as it sounds.  I had a three handset phone; she had a three handset phone.  I plugged all the handsets into outlets, and turned off the answering machine in the main base of one set.  Anywho, things have been fine (except for some issues with static that have been going on since the termite guys were here–but that’s a different story).  Today however, none of the handsets from my phone were working.  But I picked up one of the handsets from her phone, and got a dial tone.  And I know it’s working since I just hung up on a telemarketer.

See.  I told you it was goofy.

I have no explanation for this, except that the ghost of my father is trying to call the house for some reason.  Probably wants to talk about Pluto or something.  It does sound a little like there’s someone on the line–you know, that funny sound/non-sound/almost a pressure you get when there’s an open phone line but no one’s answering.  Either way, it’s irritating and a sign that it’s time to suck it up and buy a new phone.

Oh, and Dad, get off the line, please.

“867-5309/Jenny”

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It’s gonna take a few days to get our old phone number ported over to the new service (the best estimate I could get was “sometime on Tuesday”), so until it happens, I’ll worry that it won’t.  We had trouble the last time.  As a result, I’ve got phone numbers on the brain, hence this wonderfully strange little classic from one-hit wonder Tommy Tutone.

Tommy Tutone wasn’t a person; it was the name of the band.  They were one of the pop-rock artists that came out of the San Francisco area in the late 70s-early 80s, like Huey Lewis and the News and The Tubes.  The video was in heavy rotation on MTV for years after the song charted in 1982.  It was also one of the better early videos, with the band members playing roles in a psychological mini-drama.

When you think about, “867-5309/Jenny” is a seriously creepy song.  For those of you too young to remember, writing names and numbers on bathroom walls was a big deal.  Guys used to get back at girls for perceived wrongs by making the girls sound easy, writing “for a good time call.”  There were probably a few . . . vivacious young ladies who weren’t opposed to entertaining random phone calls from strangers looking for no-strings sex.  But usually it was used as a tactic to smear the reputation of some otherwise proper girl for what was probably a trivial reason.  The song and video up the icky quotient by making the character in the song little more than a stalker: “Jenny, I got your number.  I need to make you mine.  Jenny, don’t change your number, 867-5309.”  It’s the kind of thing restraining orders were created for.

There was a little real life mini-drama about the song.  The reason songs, movies, TV shows, etc. always use “555” as the prefix to fictional phone numbers is that “555” never leads to any place real; it won’t connect you to anything.  (Remember, even before my time, the first three numbers of a phone number actually used to be a location of some sort.  That’s why all the phone numbers in a certain area all start the same.  I don’t know when area codes were added.)  But this song used what was a legitimate phone number.  As a result, places with the number “867-5309” started getting a lot of phone calls for some chick named Jenny. I have the feeling that number isn’t in use anymore, but you also don’t hear too many songs with phone numbers in them anymore.  (Squeeze’s  “853-5937” from 1987 was the last one I can think of; you probably shouldn’t call that number, either.)

Luckily, I won’t have to deal with anything more annoying than robocalls and telemarketers when we get the old number back “sometime on Tuesday.”