Everything Old Is New Again

Cool answering machine with 8-track tape player!
Cool answering machine with 8-track tape player!
From bell bottoms to roller disco to mullets (business in the front, party in the back! Sounds like a porno title!), it seems that some fads will not die. Just when you think it’s safe to burn the stuff in the back of your closet, neighbor kids are begging to borrow them so they can “look cool” at he next dance or whatever.

Not that you would look cool wearing them. Far from it. You would look like that creepy guy folks call the cops on when their kids are outside. If you’re a woman, and I know that some of you are, you would forever be labeled as Crazy Aunt – insert your name here. Worse yet are the people who try and rock a modern look when they are well past their shelf date. 40 something dudes should no more be pimping the baggy jeans look than some cougar should be sporting Hello Kitty gear.

You know I’m right.

But, sometimes, pulling out a classic can be fun for all. Back in the 80’s (yes, I know, before some of you were born) my bud, Dino T. Manzella, figured out how to program his answering machine into a game. You’d dial the number, make a numeric selection and you’d be off on a multiple choice trip from hell. The idea, apparently, was for the caller to make it to the fridge and grab a beer. At which point, allegedly, you could leave a message.

Since I never made it that far, I don’t know.

Well a short time ago, between hanging boars heads in his bathroom and asking for decorating tips, he came across his old answering machine. One thing led to another and, after a quick call to his local phone provider, the answering machine was back on line.

To coin a phrase.

I know I know, I can hear you squealing already.

“Oh please Mr. Big Bad, what’s the number? We want to play too!”

Do you seriously think I would put up some guy’s private phone number so that random stalkers could call him?

If you guessed yes, you’ve been paying attention.

All you have to do is punch (or dial or select or ….) 630.847.5241 into your smart or dumb phone and you too can have hours of mindless fun. Naturally the answering machine has its own Facebook page. Just click the number if you doubt me.

My old answering machine, with it’s “Hello, you’re not there right now…” message, seems like the work of a rank amateur compared to this masterpiece.

The machine’s Facebook page goes on to memorialize some of the great answering machine messages of all time. It’s an art that was lost with the invention of voicemail, so some of you may be unfamiliar with it. One of Dino’s favorites, listed on the page, had this very exciting scary music, along with a kitten crying in the background, and then the voice says: “The machine answering this message is connected to a 5000 volt power supply, and a relay which is wired to this small kitten. If you hang up before you leave a message, it will complete the circuit and will fry the kitty. The choice is YOURS…. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP

Admit it, you want to kill a kitten now, don’t you?

Not to be outdone by himself, Dino has also added a page that details his philosophy on anything that has his attention at the moment. Since that moment is often fleeting, you have to pay attention.

And if your boss wants to know why you’ve been on one phone call for a couple of hours while laughing your boot-aay off, just say “I’ve been researching the tangential variables of antique communications systems, some of which we should be able to utilize in our company’s voicemail system. These will enhance customer satisfaction as well as free staff up to do more important work.”

Then give them the number and tell them they can leave a message if they can find the beer.

You’ll never see them again.

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