Sunday, April 28, 2019

Voicemail Surprise

It was 2007 and my roommate, Quinn, had a birthday coming up so I decided that I should throw him a little birthday party. I was going to make a cake and everything.

I found a time that would work, put together a guest list, and then started calling people to let them know. I was responsible. I was organized. I was just a damn good friend.

Quinn had recently started dating Pam. The two were high school sweethearts that had spent a couple of years apart because of a Mormon mission, but now they were getting back together. I think I had met Pam once by this point. I'm not totally sure. I may not have met her quite yet. This detail is foggy.

The point is, I absolutely did not know Pam well and she hardly knew me at all.

Pam was on the invite list, but since I didn't really know her, I had to find a sneaky way to get her number. This was before Facebook was nearly as ubiquitous as it has since become so I'm not sure trying to find and contact her there even seemed like an option to me. In fact, although I had set up a Facebook account in 2005, I don't think I actually started using it until about 2008.

So I stole Quinn's phone while he was in the shower and pulled Pam's number from it. This was pre-smartphones so his phone wasn't password protected. It just struck me as so odd that we used to be able to flip open any person's phone and access its content without ever being asked for a password.

Anyway, I got Pam's number and decided I would call her the following day on my drive to work. I worked part time at a bank, Washington Mutual, as a teller to pay for school.

So there I was, driving down University Avenue in Provo Utah one sunny day. The windows were down, the wind in my hair. I flipped open my slick razer phone. I was using an earpiece with a little mic attached to it because I was super hip and professional.

The call went to Pam's voicemail, so I summoned my best professional voice for this practically-stranger, and left the following message:

"Hey, Pam. This is Eli, Quinn's friend. Just wanted to let you know I'm throwing Quinn a super fun birthday party this Friday at 7:00 at our house. You better be there!"

I flipped my razer phone shut and went about my day.

I never heard back from Pam, but assumed that she must have gotten my message and felt there was no need to call me back, so I didn't give it any further thought.

Friday arrived. At 7:00 we yelled "surprise." Pam was there. So were a handful of other friends, including at least two people I had very large crushes on.

I was killing it. The party was a hit. Everyone was having a great time. I looked responsible. And professional. And like a damn good friend.

Then Pam said she wanted to give Quinn his birthday present, so we all gathered around.

"This year for your birthday, I want to play for you a voicemail Eli left for me earlier this week," she said.

I was confused. Everyone was confused. Why would Pam want to play my voicemail for other people to hear?

And then she hit play, and I found out why.

"Hey, Pam. This is Eli, Quinn's friend. Just wanted to let you know I'm throwing Quinn a super fun birthday party this Friday at 7:00 at our house. You better be there!

. . .

. . .

. . .

♫ Look at this stuff. Isn't it neat? Wouldn't you think my collection's complete? Wouldn't you think I'm the girl . . . the girl who has everything? Look at this trove, treasures untold; how many wonders can one cavern hold?"

You guys.

It went on forever. I don't remember how long voicemails could be back then but it ended up eventually just getting cutoff by the time limit.

I had forgotten that on those old razers, although flipping them shut was a way to hang up a call, if you had the earpiece plugged in, that would actually not hang up the call. So when I flipped it shut, I thought I had ended the message. Instead, it kept recording. And it recorded me singing the entirety of Part of Your World, a cappella, at the top. of. my. lungs.

Half of the words weren't even right.

By the time the message cut out, people were literally on the ground trying to catch their breath.

I thought someone was going to call the cops on this party for noise violations.

Quinn said it was the best birthday present he had ever received. Then he married Pam. I know those things probably aren't connected, but I like to imagine they are.

And maybe they were. I was, after all, a damn good friend.

And now, please enjoy our fourth and final part of our cringey Mormon films series.

This time in Strangerville, Meg becomes a “birder” and she probably knows your grandma now. Also, enjoy our fourth and final part of our Mormon Films Series, wherein we take a very dark turn.
Mormon Films, Part 4: Death, by Eli McCann
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. A similar thing happened to me once. I was home "alone". I was singing 'Hello' at the top of my lungs and dancing. I did a twirl and saw my sister recording me. I am no Adele. She posted it on YouTube and later deleted it only because I gave her fifty bucks.

  2. My son was so enamoured with Lion King. He was 4 when we got all the bedding, sheets, pillow cases and comforter. He was probably 10 when he was ready for something else. He is almost 32 now, but he loves everything Disney. He can and will sing all the Disney songs. Loudly. We lived 30 walking steps from the high school. I would come home from work to a house full of boys and they would greet me with Disney songs. I miss those days. I just sent him the news that "Oh yes, it's a lion" does not pack the same punch as the Zulu way.

    1. If your son is 32 he couldn’t have been 4 when you bought him all that stuff. I’m 30 and that movie came out in 1994, when I was 5. I had everything Lion King when I started Kindergarten including a Lion King birthday party when I turned 6.

    2. Kelly's son is 32... 1994 was a long time ago in parenting years... you'll have to forgive us old(er) parents' brain fog. Maybe he was nine... maybe it was a brother... (or, shhhhhh... she may have his age wrong.. hey, once they hit a certain age, it happens. haha). In our minds, all of that kind of runs together. I have three kids-- I mix up who did what 15 years ago all of the time. Unless it was a near-death experience, everything else is a blur of trying to keep everyone fed and alive. haha...

    3. He is almost 32. Not yet. He was born in 1987. July. He will be 32 in July. But, I did have to find a calculator to figure out how old he is and I feel terrible. I do know this was him because he LOVED and still loves everything Disney. My other son was not so much. I Googled the original release date for the video The Lion King and it was June 24, 1994. I was wrong, he wasn't 4, he was 7. I have two boys, three years apart. My parents named my siblings and I all names starting with K. I did it, not purposely with my two boys with J and my brother did it on purpose with his boys with D. Never again. My mom would get frusted with us kids and since we all had K names she would get frustrated and throw in the dogs name for good measure. :)

    4. Totally understand! The reason I knew off memory it was 1994 (and knew the math was therefore off) is because I’m 30, and in 1994 I started Kindergarten...with my brand new Lion King backpack. Obviously that’s a notable life event for me personally so easier to keep the date straight. :)

  3. Please never stop sharing these stories. I had a helluva night, but this post just turned my Monday around! Bless you, Eli.

  4. There have been two times that I have laughed out loud at work so loudly that people have come to see what is so funny. Your rental car story and this one. Thank you!

    1. Ohh, then you'll have to keep going back and read his older posts. There have been times I screamed.

  5. This story is amazing, but I'm just hear to say that the Mormon films series is my favorite thing I have ever listened to on a podcast and this finale did not disappoint. I'm actually kind of depressed that it's over now.

    1. So depressed that you'll fall off a bus into the snow?

    2. Haaaaa oh that's awful

    3. Strangervilleisnotresponsibleforanysaddnessrelateddeaths.

  6. This story just made Monday so much more bearable! Thank you!!!

    Also, on the mormon film series, as I've listened to them, each one makes me more and more grateful that I didn't grow up in Utah, and that I've never heard of, let alone seen most of the ones you review. Johnny Lingo in seminary (moved to UT by then) and I do remember seeing the blood donor one, but the rest I gratefully was spared that trauma.

  7. I love your life! Ha ha ha! This was hilarious and I wish you'd re-enact it on the podcast. Speaking of the podcast...

    I'm sad the series is over also! Except, those two movies are awwwwwful. There's a really old lady down the street from me with a Lethe-driveway and she goes to check her mail every day. I avoid her place at mail time because I don't know if it would be worse seeing her open an empty mailbox or receiving a letter that could kill her!

  8. I've listened to them all. Here's my ranking on best Mormon film to worst from this series:

    1. Uncle Ben (Should I be embarrassed that I actually liked Uncle Ben?)
    2. The Phone Call
    3. The Mailbox (even though it makes me incredibly depressed)
    4. Cipher in the Snow
    5. Johnny Lingo
    6. That one where the woman marries the guy she just met in the 1950s (I looked it up and can confirm that Kent is hot, which is the only reason this one didn't end up last on this list)
    7. The Heavy Handed Blood Donation video
    8. The MLM propaganda family video
    9. Pioneers in Pettycoats
    10. The Award. Not even a competition here.

    1. Bless you for this. My list would be very similar. And I also like Uncle Ben (and The Phone Call) and I'm not ashamed.

      The Award is a monstrosity.

    2. What? The Award is last?? But what about the dad and his advice on avoiding any major collisions at the dinner table? And Pioneers in Petticoats has, "H-homemade raisin pie?"

  9. There are just so many questions but I guess the most pressing two are..
    #1 - Are you still friends with Quinn and Pam?
    #2 - Do they still have a copy of this voicemail? I would pay upwards of $100 for that comedy gold.

  10. I just moved into a new cubicle at work this morning and now all my new colleagues think I'm insane because I just burst out laughing. THANKS FOR THAT ELI. Not even a warning.

  11. The little girl from "The Mailbox," Rachel, is now in her 40's (Early 50's? She looks super young so it's hard to say) and is in my ward. Because of her prestigious acting career in that blockbuster and several cereal commercials in the 70s, she now heads up all the ward Christmas and primary programs. She's an amazingly friendly and spunky lady! And I love, love, LOVE that her middle daughter looks JUST like Rachel did in The Mailbox!

    1. That makes me so happy. That little girl is freaking adorable in The Mailbox.

      Also, I didn't mention in the podcast, but The Mailbox surprisingly has great cinematography. I looked it up after and the cinematographer's name was Reed Smoot (not to be confused with the senator) and he won an Academy Award at some point for his work on a different film. So the church pulled in a big hitter to get us to write our grandparents.

    2. In case you want to fact-check me, hears the link: Reed Smoot

  12. I laughed so hard I cried reading this.

    It reminds me of the time I accidentally called my husband's dentist and left a voicemail while singing "I believe in a thing called love."