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?"
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.SegmentMormon Films, Part 4: Death, by Eli McCannProduction by Eli McCann & Meg Walter
~It Just Gets Stranger