Friday, January 1, 2016


I got an obscene phone call this week.

This isn't the first time I’ve had an obscene phone call. It is the first time I’ve had an obscene phone call since I switched to only having a cell phone. I think in the olden days, before caller ID and when landlines were prevalent, getting such a phone call wasn’t that uncommon. A heavy breather here and there were de rigueur. But technology has made them a much more deliberate act than they were then.

Once, when I was in high school, some girls who sounded very young stumbled upon my number and decided to torment me for a week or so with incredibly stupid calls. They weren’t dirty, but they were annoying. My personality is to be very tolerant, so I didn’t just hang up the phone when I should have. I let them talk and would answer their questions, unintentionally egging them on when I just wanted them to stop. I was also accused (in high school) of prank calling the girl friend of my best friend. I didn’t do it. I did, however, participate in several slumber-party phone call pranks. They usually involved dialing random phone numbers and saying things like, “Is your refrigerator running? You better go catch it!” My friends and I weren’t terribly creative. I don’t think I was ever the person calling or talking, just one of the people in the room offering a background soundscape of giggles. None of these were obscene.

To get an obscene phone call now, though, I have to wonder if the person calling is someone I know. The caller’s phone number has to be masked, deliberately. (I’m assuming there is a way to do this without actually having to call the phone company, but I’ve never tried/investigated.) With a random sexual call, there is also the risk of calling the wrong gender, or someone who is underaged, taking the act into a criminal realm beyond just super-creepy sexual harassment. 

Not that long ago, I got a phone call which itself wasn’t obscene, just weird. A man called and seemed to know me. He wouldn’t tell me who he was and I assured him I didn’t recognize his voice and that he had a wrong number. Not long after I hung up, I got an email from the man, from a fake email address, letting me know without any doubt that it was not a wrong number. He knew me, probably from work, and the obscene material came in that email.

Which brings me to the reason this phone call is sticking with me. I can’t shake the feeling the caller is someone I know. He spoke with an (English?) accent, which might have been fake. Out of all the people I know in real life, from work or through friends, I wouldn’t want (strong word) a phone call like this from any of them. Sorry.

Is it someone who watches my videos and reads my blog? A call from a stranger would be unwelcome and disturbing. It would also mean that even though all those emails I get warning that my “personal information has been exposed” have incorrect information, someone was able to find my correct information floating around out there.

The only people I would **entertain** a call like this from are figments of my imagination. Creative geniuses I follow on Twitter or YouTube who would have no reason to even know I exist. And I doubt those kinds of people make random phone calls hoping to hear some dirty talk from a stranger or fan.

Part of the allure of the obscene phone call from the caller’s point of view must be the anonymity. Otherwise, the phone call and subsequent email I received would have included the name of the perpetrator. A hint so I would know who to avoid or who to report to HR. The caller who propositioned me this week would have started with, “Hi, Camille. It’s Tim,” and gone from there if being anonymous wasn’t part of his perversion.

I also wonder if there are women out there who would play along with a phone call like this. Are men ever encouraged to keep making these calls or is it a delusional fantasy that if they make enough of them they’ll hit the jackpot? 

Anyway, I’ll worry about it for a few weeks, wondering if each person I encounter in a day is the one who decided to prey on me. I’ll continue to be apprehensive about giving my phone number to anyone. And I’ll stew on this call, replaying the dialogue in my mind until it is just a jumble of meaningless words.