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The Lost Art of Crank Calling

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When I was a kid, crank calling was the thing to do when you were bored and with your friends. Guiding your Spidey senses through a seemingly pointless existence, there would always be one guy who would stand up and say, "Give me the frickin' phone."

Not me. Not because I was haughty or anything. My excuse was pretty straightforward. To put it bluntly, I sucked at it.

That's exactly it. My wits are blunt when it comes to being able to think quickly. I freeze like water in sub-freezing temperatures.*  My brother, on the other hand, was a master. Once long ago in a distant galaxy far, far away, following the death of Liberace, he and my sister conspired to make such a call. With my sister on the piano playing a Liberace tune (she couldn't have been more than ten years of age) and my brother breaking into his impersonation of the flamboyant figure (he was about eight years old) they invented a sketch — "Liberace calls from Heaven".

There they were. Two nutcases making crank calls as I, my oldest sister, and her boyfriend (now husband) stood in disbelief.

We could not believe our eyes and ears because my two siblings succeeded in making two successive ten-minute crank calls. They were able to keep people on the line — one was in French, to boot. It was that good. Why none of us went into show business in some form is beyond me. After all, the real world is simply not cut out for us. It was not designed to fit our DNA mold. Well, mine anyway. I'm the neighborhood friendly misanthropist. Getting up early and fighting traffic and lame colleagues at work never really sat well with me. Sort of like butter. I can never digest butter. As I grow older I am becoming more and more lactose intolerant, even though I never really drank milk. I digress.

Moving along. The art of the conspiratorial crank call is dead now. Caller ID has all but destroyed that pastime. Sure, you can "star-whatever" to block the ID but that costs, what, 75 cents per call? I don't have that kind of cash flow. One needs a financial planner to engage in such an activity.

Why am I writing about this? Last night, my nephew decided he was going to call someone out of the blue. My sister warned him not to do it. "They will call back and give us hell! Put the phone done this minute!" I think the last group of immature smart alecs to profit from this genre was the Jerky Boys. When they first came out in the early- to mid-'90s, who could have known they were the last of the Etruscans?

These are the times we live in now. A time where we have to watch what we do and carefully select our words lest we offend the most sensitive of people. It's an age where humour and its senses have been beaten down senselessly.

What do you say? Let's all make one collective crank call. Let's jam the phone — er, cell lines.

Aw, forget it. Making a call from a Range Rover isn't the same. Sigh. Like I said, the art of the crank call is dead now. Now they call it telemarketing.

*I use Celsius.

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About Alessandro Nicolo

  • Ha! This really made me laugh…when I was a kid, cranking calling was a favorite past-time…..my friend and I even befriended a lonely old lady we crank called one night, and we would regularly call her just to chat—about what, Lord only knows. Thanks for the memories. Damn caller-id!

  • C, I’m sure lonely people everywhere miss being crank called!

  • Phoneman

    Before I got on the do not call list great times were had crank answering. The last crank call I made was to a women and told her I was with the phone co. Requested she put her phone in a paper bag to keep the dirt spreading over her house while we pressure blew the phone lines for cleaning. Could hear the paper bag crinkle as she put the phone into the bag. That all ended when we heard a mans voice asking her what the hell she was doing. The good old days.

  • LOL!

  • sr

    Great Blog Alessandro. If I drink enough rum the internet looks like a new playground. G-day. sr