Bruce Toews (masterofmusings) wrote,
Bruce Toews

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Fun with Answering Machines

Growing up, I always dreamed of having a telephone answering machine. I heard other people's boring messages, and was sure I could do better than that. Problem was, we had a party line. Party lines are not conducive to answering machines, unless the person who has the machine is willing to ride around the neighborhood, passing the message on to all the farms. So, no answering machine for Brucie. Which isn't to say that the concept wasn't tried. Our neighbor got it into his head that he should have an answering machine. His farm was on the same party line as ours. This created major headaches for all involved, and the advent of the private line circa 1991 was a major relief to all concerned. Of course, by this time, my parents had moved into town where there were no party lines, so that didn't help me any.

I was a contributor to the problem, though, in that while I didn't have an answering machine, I did have a modem: 300-baud beast that you had to manually connect once your phone dialed the number - just once step up from acoustic couplers.

It was 1990. I was boarding in a dank basement room here in Winnipeg while I worked at my summer job. But yay, I had my own phone line. So off to the store I went, and I bought my first answering machine! It used real cassettes, too, not these mini things, so I could record my outgoing message on my stereo. Talk about fun! I used this really, really bad rendition of the theme music to 2001: A Space Audacy. I don't know what that song is, no doubt the lovely FunBlindSinger would know. Anyway, this was an absolutely horrid rendition by a group called the Portsmouth Symphonia. I added a little diabolical laughter, some reverb, and all in all was darned proud of my efforts. My faith in the fruits of my labor was validated some weeks later when I got the following message on my machine: "Hi, this is a wrong number, but I loved your message!"

Through the years I tried other original messages: a standard greeting with the Dudley Doright theme in the background ("Hmmm, I bet that's Rod [my roommate] on the trumpet, right?"), a Valentine's Day message with a little ditty called Tapeworm of Love in the background (I won't quote what the wrong number caller on my machine said to that one), and others. One time I had a friend of mine record my outgoing message for me in the sultriest of voices: she sounded positively naked. This went over great, until my mom called me and, shall we say, voiced extreme displeasure over my choice of outgoing messages, insisting that I remove the outgoing message immediately. I did have the good sense to keep the tape. Oi, what fun, I absolutely love answering machines!

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