Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Wrong Number

The Phone Call

((((RING))))


**Pick Up** "Hello?"

"Hi honey, this is Daddy, is Mommy near the phone?"

"No Daddy, she's upstairs in the bedroom with Uncle Paul."

After a brief pause, Daddy says, "But honey, you haven't got an Uncle Paul."

"Oh yes I do, and he's upstairs in the room with Mommy right now"


..... Brief Pause

"Uh, okay then, ..this is what I want you to do. Put the phone down on the table, run upstairs and knock on the bedroom door, and shout to Mommy that Daddy's car just pulled into the driveway."

"Okay Daddy, just a minute"

A few minutes later the little girl comes back to the phone. "I did it, Daddy"

"And what happened honey?" he asked

"Well, Mommy got all scared, jumped out of bed with no clothes on and ran around screaming. Then she tripped over the rug, hit her head on the dresser and now she isn't moving at all!"

"Oh my God!!! What about your Uncle Paul?"

"He jumped out of the bed with no clothes on, too. He was all scared and he jumped out of the back window and into the swimming pool. But I guess he didn't know that you took out the water last week to clean it. He hit the bottom of the pool and I think he's dead."


*** Long Pause ***


****** Longer Pause ******


Then Daddy says: "Swimming pool?? ... Is this 486-5731??"


The fun thing for me is that with stories like this, ripping them apart as urban legends is almost ancillary to the enjoyment, but not quite. It's hard for me to simply be entertained by the gross errors in storytelling that occur in shorts such as this one. For example, how is the little girl gonna know her mom jumped out of bed unless the bedroom door is open, and this would be socially unacceptable on many levels. Secondly, is the little girl really gonna know that much about "Uncle Paul" and her mom's relations? I'd think that there might be some sounds of scrambling around fumbling back into clothes, but depending on the age of the girl -- and we can assume that it's 10 and/or under -- she might or might not know how to interpret the sounds. And why is the daddy reacting so passively to his supposed wife being knocked unconscious or killed when she hits her head on the dresser? Not to mention that the tripping and falling would've been behind closed doors, so again, the little girl shouldn't know enough to report those facts.

This seems to be a case where the original author/teller of the story had a clear vision of the punch line, but seemed to force the story to fit it.

I have a hard time enjoying such forced stories beyond the initial giggle at the punchline itself and the meaning therein. Before many nanoseconds go by, I'm poking at the story with a stick, seeing if it's as dead as it seems to be. It usually is. This one was.

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