Like I said, the phone rang one evening when I was still at work. It was an outside line. I reacted calmly.
Me: Hello?An aside: I actually know a Monique. We lived together during college. We haven’t talked in years, but she remains one of my favorite people to play pranks on. I landed a few good ones, back in the day, some of them documented on this very blog, but she lives in San Francisco now and it’s very hard to justify the airfare up there just to wallpaper her house in Insane Clown Posse posters. (Have I gone soft?)
Angry woman: Yeah, hi. Did you prank call Monique?
Me: Excuse me?Another aside: Since emerging from toddlerhood, I don’t know that I’ve been so upset I’ve needed to take a nap. Just saying.
Angry woman: Did you prank call Monique at work today? She thinks you did, and she’s really upset about it.
Me: No. No, I didn’t. I’ve been busy all day.
Angry woman: Well she says you did. And she was so upset by it that she had to come home.
Me: I’m so sorry. But I didn’t do it.
Angry woman: She had to take a nap, she was so upset.
Me: I’m sorry, but who is this?Aside No. 3: Okay, that was a lie. I do know why she would. Because of all that stuff I did in college, that’s why. But I honestly hadn’t called her, and I was kind of annoyed at this woman calling to accuse me all the way from the 415 area code, which, if you don’t know, means San Francisco.
Angry woman: This is Monique’s roommate. I’m calling you because she’s too upset.
Me: Well, I’m sorry she’s upset. But I have no idea why she’d think it was me. We haven’t talked in a really long time.
Angry woman: Monique said you were the first person she thought of.
Me: I don’t know why she would.
Me: What did the prank caller say?Aside No. 4: At this point, I started laughing, because lizard people. Lizard people. I feel like that didn’t make me seem less guilty to Monique’s weirdly dutiful roommate.
Angry woman: Monique said that her phone rang at work, and the woman on the other end of the line was all “Hi, do we have your correct name? Do we have your correct title? How long have you had your current position?” All normal job stuff. And eventually the woman asked her, “And can you tell us about the lizard people?”
Angry woman: It’s not funny.Aside No. 5: This is an actual thing, by the way. Not that they necessarily exist — what am I, a lizardologist? — but that people think lizard people control the world, kind of like a scaly, literally cold-blooded Illuminati. As I heard the story, my brain jumped to three conclusions successively: first that Monique had gotten into some hard drugs, second that she was involved in a cult, and third (where I settled) that the San Francisco equivalent of me had realized how much fun it is to screw with Monique and gotten her so good that it had ended her day early.
Me: I’m sorry. “Lizard people”?
Angry woman: That’s what Monique asked, and the woman on the other line was all, “You know, the lizard people. They look like people but they’re actually lizards who eat people and the come from inside the earth.”
Me: [more laughter]
Angry woman: And Monique said she had no idea what the woman was talking about, but the woman insisted. And she kept asking questions about the lizard people, and Monique kept saying no. But then the women started to get irate, and she was like, “Listen bitch, you better tell us about the fucking lizard people or we’re fucking coming for you!”
Me: [still more laughter, in spite of the considerably raised stakes]
Angry woman: And Monique started crying and all of a sudden there was a man’s voice in the background was all “It’s the wrong one! It’s the wrong one! Hang up the phone!” And Monique said he sounded mentally disabled. But the woman did hang up the phone, and that was the end of the phone call, and Monique came home after that.This is where the story ends, officially. I don’t have anything more to say that will convince you that this phone call was strange. (If you do not think it seemed strange, then you are a very interesting person and I’d like to learn more about you over coffee.) There are some bits to consider, however, in surmising why what happened happened:
Me: [laughing even yet]
Angry woman: And when she got home, she said she thought it was you who’d done this. I can’t remember her being this upset, so I wanted to call and tell you that what you did was too far.
Me: Okay, but I swear I did not call her. I can’t believe this actually happened.
Angry woman: [lowering her voice after a brief pause] Between you and me, I think it’s hard to believe too. I felt like I had to call, but I’m a little worried about Monique.
Me: Wait, really? I mean, it’s a really weird story.
Angry woman: I’m going to talk to her when she gets up. Can you do me a favor and not tell anyone about this?
Me: I guess, but —
Angry woman: [hangs up]
- In complete defiance of the angry woman’s final request, I texted Jill, who lived with Monique and me in college and whom I knew to be at a wedding with some other college friends, to ask if she’d spoken to Monique lately. Her response: “She’s right here.” They were all at the wedding together. When I asked if they had all gone in on this prank as a group — that is, calling me at my office and accusing me of having pranked Monique, in some sort of Inception-like reverse prank — they swore they hadn’t. I hope they’re telling the truth. They were in Key West, and I’d like to think they had better ways to spend their time than reverse-pranking me at work. That said, I’m still not convinced it wasn’t them, and the whole while I’ve been writing this post, admitting how much this incident got to me, I’ve been wondering if I’m setting myself up for a Nelson Muntz-style “ha ha.”
- I didn’t recognize the voice of the woman who called me.
- I wish I had asked how she got my number. She just got me by surprise, and I consequently didn’t think to ask.
- No, the dialogue is not verbatim. But trust me: It’s pretty damn close to what happened.
- The office phone keeps a record of incoming phone numbers. When I called back, it went to voicemail — no outgoing message, just the automated one telling me what number I called, as if I were calling on a phone that didn’t automatically store that info and also it’s 1989 still. Eventually, I called back again and left a message begging for resolution. No response.
- The conversation described to me by the angry woman played out weirdly similarly to the one I had — both called at work by a woman, both asked strange questions, both ending with a weird turn and an abrupt hang-up.
- If this had been a prank, you have to admit it’s a weird one to pull.
- I’m 99 percent sure that the angry woman never called me by name.
- She always referred to her roommate as Monique. Like everyone else in college, however, I have always called her Moe.
- It was unusual for me to still be at work that late.
- It is entirely possible that the angry woman dialed a wrong number and reached a guy who happened to know a prank-prone woman named Monique.
- Finally, the lizard people will probably come for me now. Goodbye, life where I was not always running from lizard people!