Having attended a tiny rural high school, fearing I could never compete with those from large urban high schools, I was sensitive about my educational shortcomings. Expecting to be labeled a bumpkin and hustled back to the farm “with my own kind,” in my mind, I had gotten to college with little to recommend me but a good vocabulary, a love of literature, and motivation. Not only this, my knowledge of profanity and vile language was unimaginative, another embarrassment when I met sophisticates who drank beer, smoked, ordered pizza, and cursed with abandon. Drinking and smoking had never appealed to me. I liked pizza but had absolutely no pocket money, so easily avoided that temptation. Had I been inspired to curse a blue streak, it would have been an extremely short and awkward one, with my lack of knowledge and complete inexperience with profanity.
Back in the good days, before cell phones and caller identification put an end to it, the fascinating practice of obscene phone calls was available to perverts, whereby a caller dialed his “victim,” likely at random, and launched into a raunchy, heavy-breathing monologue, usually complete with a description of how he might be entertaining himself at the moment. The object, of course, was for the answering party to respond in some appropriately shocked manner, gratifying and rewarding the caller.
Well, one night about midnight, I got my call. He wasn’t much of conversationalist and got right down to business. Unfortunately for my disappointed caller, his terminology was beyond me.
“Huh?” I asked.
Clearly frustrated, he repeated his message. It didn’t help a bit.
“Huh?” By now I realized I had been tested and come up short, just as I had feared from the day I first stepped foot on campus. I was devastated.
I think my caller also knew the bitter taste of failure. “You don’t even know what that means do you?”
“No.” Without thinking, I acknowledged the humiliating truth.
“Oh, Hell!” He slammed the phone down in my ear. We had both been tested and found lacking.