Midnight calls from Australia
Every now and then I get a surprise phone call in the middle of the night. But only recently did I get one from Australia.I was caught a little off guard, but I guess I had asked for it.I’m a big fan of practical jokes, but sometimes I run out of people on whom to ply the craft. During a spell in 2003, I was looking for someone to play a good trick on. Lacking good subjects, I decided to try a few on myself.Yes, sounds silly, but the whole thing is fairly simple, and turns on the basic principle that people, including myself, tend to have pretty shoddy memories. With this in mind, I was able to launch a series of practical jokes on myself and then, with surprising ease, I was able to forget I had ever launched the jokes in the first place.Thus, in the middle of the night, I became the victim of my own mischievous sense of humor.Case in point: A few nights ago my phone rang. Apparently I had dozed off in my living room chair, so I was a bit disoriented as I picked up the phone.On the other end was a female voice who announced herself as “Beau” something or other and said she was calling from Australia.At first I thought it was another magazine or newspaper writer calling from Down Under to ask questions about our now-infamous bank robbers. The two not-so-brilliant get-a-way artists have become folk heroes of a sort to their countrymen in Australia, and every now and then I’ll get a call from a writer who wants to scrape some more informational victuals out of my brain pan.I was prepared to tell the lady that I didn’t know the two robbers personally when she asked me a totally different question:”Did you save Chair 10 yet?”I responded with something like: “Uhhh hmmmm, ah, well, I guess, I mean, well, it’s still there anyway.”Then I realized: I just PUNKED myself.In April of 2003 I wrote a column on Chair 10 called “Ode to Chair 10, last vestige of the expert skier, or, 17 minutes of true love.” As this week’s Inbox section can attest (see page 11), the column still has a few readers now and then on our website (vailtrail.com).At the end of the column I wrote this tag line: Tom Boyd is still looking for his second kiss, but in the meantime he’s trying to rally support to save Chair 10. Send him supportive vibes or senseless rantings (either one will do) at (970) 390-1585, or write firstname.lastname@example.org.In another column from the same time period, I wrote this little tag line: Tom Boyd wants to hear what you have to say, even if it doesn’t make any sense. Surprise him with a midnight call at (970) 390-1585.Little did I know that, years later, I would still be getting the occasional midnight phone call.Well, close enough. As Beau pointed out, it wasn’t even near midnight in Australia and only 10:30 p.m. our time. But, as she said, she thought she’d, “just be cheeky and try giving you a call.”There are a few interesting things that come out of this strange connection between two foreigners. First, of course, is that I remembered that it’s a piece of cake to pull a prank on yourself.But it’s also equally bizarre to think of someone halfway across the world dialing up my number, instigating a wave of electric pulses across all those many miles of land and water, connecting to my spot here in Vail, and therefore creating a line between us, an arc of unification between two sentient dots on the surface of a giant, rotating sphere.And then, of course, there’s Chair 10, and its growing power to intrigue people.Art, once it is created, takes on a life of its own. Somewhere along the line Chair 10 morphed from a utilitarian chairlift into an artful reminder of winter’s warm heart, a centerpiece at the table of skiing’s remembrance. Something about that lift is still ringing true with my readers, and it is still the topic I hear the most about.So, I say keep it coming. Send your thoughts to me at email@example.com or call at (970) 390-1585. You don’t have to make sense, you don’t have to know me, you don’t have to even have a point. And even at the ripe old age of 29, I can still take calls at midnight midnight wherever you are. VT
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