Fuck it, I don’t even know what to say anymore in regards to this “quarantine diaries” stuff. I’m trying to just give up on watching/reading the news because it makes me so angry and horrified. I’ve gotten a bit better on staying on some kind of schedule, but I still find myself sometimes on a light emotional rollercoaster. I’d describe myself as “testy” right now.
Oh, speaking of tests, I tested negative for the antibodies. I was downright surprised. I thought my symptoms matched, and I knew my coworker got the virus. I had told my boss I was going to get tested, and he inquired about my results. I told him negative, and he busts out with ” Oh, I really think our whole office got it. I tested positive a few weeks ago. I had to go to the ER because I had trouble breathing one night”…. So I was processing this, and the guy who works in the metal shop on the property came by and was asking when my landlord and his wife were going to be around again. My landlords wife had been living next door temporarily and is a nurse. A few weeks ago she suddenly disappeared. I said I had no idea, didn’t know where she went, and he says “oh, she got the corona”. Thankfully, she is recovered and went back to long island where she usually lives with my landlord, but this means my coworker, my boss, and my neighbor who uses the same front door as myself, have all contracted the virus. It’s confusing as hell, but I suppose it IS possible that timing and safety measures (hand washing – I’m almost ocd about it) worked out as such that I dodged those bullets.
I’m still disappointed though. It would have been a better case scenario to have the antibodies and have been exposed to the virus and been in oblivion while it was going down. Now I just have to keep worrying, because in a place like NYC it’s practically inevitable I will contract it at some point.
But, whatever. That’s the hand I’ve been dealt.
I was thinking about things to write about the other day, because it passes the time, and had been gearing up to tell this incredibly long story, but that is too much effort right now. Somehow though, in thinking about that, I did remember my favorite activity in my teenage years, prank calling. And I may do a whole series on this, because they are mostly pretty short and easy to fire off. One of my all time favorite achievements in life was the result of a prank call! And strangely, I ‘dated’ someone who prank called my friend – she just handed me the phone when he called her knowing I would deal with it. That was a fucked up story that turned out in disaster. But anyway, those are different stories, this is the story of one of my first ‘victims’, which stretched out for a very long time, and I’m not sure who ended up laughing at who. I often wonder what became of him… (Okay, that’s not true, I don’t “often” wonder what became of him. I forgot all about him until last night. but every few years I remember this happened, and then I totally wonder for days until I forget again.)..
I was maybe 13 or 14 when I really started getting bored and tried to fill up my time with prank calls. Once again, the disclaimer that I am very old, and this is before decent technology existed. There were no cell phones, *69 (yikes,even that is obsolete to readers I bet) didn’t exist yet, and we had actual phonebooks made out of paper.
So back in this world of no technology, what was a 13 year old to do? I was too old to climb trees or play barbies (although, hand me a god damn Barbie right now and I will come up with a soap opera), but too young to do anything SERIOUSLY crazy, so the natural solution to kill time was the prank call.
And my version of a prank call wasn’t asking if the refrigerator is running and saying “you’d better catch it, HAHAHAHA’….I was killing time. which meant I was going for a lengthy conversation.
So I looked in the phonebook and picked someone at random. Keith Turner.
I’d had a few practice runs, and I knew the best way to keep someone on was to pretend that we had met before, because then they question it and don’t want to be rude. So I called, he answered, and I said “KEITH!!!!! How the HELL are you???!!!! This is Bonnie!!!!!”
There was definitely confusion, but I knew his name, so he thought I had the right number. I was using this overly enthusiastic , throaty, 13-year-old-trying-to-be-a-drag-queen voice.
I tried to convince him that we had met at a party, sensing that he was not an old man. In trying to pinpoint this, he offered up that he was a grad student at OSU, which opened up all kinds of possibilities. I kept him on the phone for a bit, but I could tell he probably knew it was a prank call, and so we hung up after awkwardly not solving the mystery of how we met.
A few days later, I got bored again and called him. This time I completely avoided how we may have met and just went right into describing my day, and made up an elaborate history for myself. Somehow, I was a professional egg cooker (WTF? why did I say that?) and was contracted to cook for breakfast banquets for major events throughout the state (like conventions and stuff). I told him of my occasional celebrity sightings. ‘Oh, lord, you wouldn’t BELIEVE the time I cooked a poached egg for Donna Mills !!!’. Somehow, he was totally into this. (If I recall correctly I also worked Donna Mills into numerous tales as though she were my best friend, even though in real life I barely even knew who she was or had any real appreciation for her) I was always flirty with him and downright declared my love for him, but it was ‘forbidden’. I lived with my roommate Pacquita and her extremely jealous and territorial boyfriend Ralph, who watched over me like hawks. But I would try to get him to describe his physical encounters with other women so I could get all fired up and jealous. Once he did, and it was really….unnoteworthy and vanilla.
I started calling him all the time, just for fun, always in character. Sometimes I would call him with radio static in the background and say I was calling collect (even though, duh, he would have had to accept the charges)… (edit – I distinctly remember calling him from a payphone once though, so I may have been smart enough to do so that way to get the operator to ask if he’d accept. I don’t remember having a portable radio) and pretend I was in another country in some strange situation, hoping the static would make it sound like a bad international connection and see if he’d hang up. He never did.
For Valentines day I shoplifted some really hideous mens polyester bikini style underwear from Fred Meyer and rode over to his apartment on my bike (those phone books gave addresses too!) and dropped them off on his doorstep without being seen. I wanted to see if he would return the favor.
At the time I was obsessed with the soap opera Days of Our Lives, and a song they featured often between the characters Patch and Cayla was Lady in Red, by Chris De Burgh. Let’s give it a listen, shall we?
Anyhow, I wanted that tape. I gave him my address, but told him that he could never show up in person, that my overbearing roommate Ralph stood guard with an assault rifle and would kill him. But he came through, and mailed me the tape.
Around this time, the school year must have been ending. Keith told me that he had been offered a job and was moving to California. There were several calls with me carrying on about how I didn’t think I could live without him. But he moved regardless.
However, he wrote. And I even called him long distance a couple of times. (Maybe this is where the payphone came into play, because I didn’t want to explain to my parents what I was up to if they saw a call to California) At no time was I ever interested in this guy, but I was fascinated that he continued to talk to me. Like, he seriously took fairly long chunks out of his day to humor me. But the thing was, he always acted totally serious too, like he was also playing a role (or…. was he???). He never questioned the professional egg cooking, the weird situation with my murderous roommates, the international trips and collect calls, my undying love for him – he completely played along.
I thought when he moved he would drop off the radar, but he must have been lonely and bored. His letters were actually normal, and nice, and long, and – like one you would write to a friend. He divulged many personal details. He discussed his job. This was actually right around the time of the Exxon oil spill and I think he was on a team to prosecute them. I didn’t know how interesting that was at the time, but now it is.
The final straw though was he bought a house, on snapping turtle lane, in Apple Valley. I remember because he drew a little snapping turtle on the envelope. It was cute. The letter inside was so full of devotion – “Oh, Bonnie, I cannot wait until we can finally be together as one in this house I have bought for us..” etc.
His letter was so good I believed it. It had a different tone to it – more serious, and almost needy. I believed that he was deluded into thinking I existed and this was a real full blown romance about to happen. I think he even mentioned marriage. Now of course, looking back, of course he was playing along and just enjoying how weird it was, but at the time I really thought ‘oh my god, maybe this guy is really just dumb and doesn’t know, and actually believes everything I’m saying’. And I genuinely felt bad for him. My 13 year old self could no longer bear to lead him on.
So I wrote to him one last time and told him that I was going to Nicaragua to join ‘the rebel force’. (whatever that was?) and would be out of contact for an undetermined amount of time, and that I was sorry I could not join him in Happy Valley, this mission was detrimental to mankind. Our love for one another would have to wait.
I am not sure if he ever wrote back, I can’t remember. Somewhere I have a big trove of old letters and correspondence as well as old diaries etc. that would clear it up, but they aren’t in NY. I’d love to revisit them.
So good old Keith Turner faded away, but I would love to know what things were like from his perspective, and in general, who the hell this guy is.