Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pager Days

Remember 15 years ago, when cell phones were for rich drug dealers and Zack Morris, and anyone who was anyone had a beeper? Being no one at the time, I did not have one.

Back then every TV and radio station would air commercials approximately every 45 seconds for J.J. The King of Beepers that ended "I am J.J! (guy spoke exclusively in exclamation marks) I am the owner! And I am the KING OF BEEPERS! (often he spoke in ALLCAPS). And then J.J., like Dallas Cowboys playoff success, simply vanished. Cell phones came along and the world had changed.

The beeper era, though, bears remembrance because was the birth of text messaging. People wold just sit by their phones, using them not to call each other but to tap in one-line puzzle-messages that could only be read upside down and by using quite a bit of imagination. For instance, remember that elementary school joke about Dolly Parton getting plastic surgery where you added a bunch of numbers together and got 55378008, which translated to "Boobless?" It was just like that. You could spell "love u," "call me" and other stuff somehow if you knew the right codes. 911 meant call me back immediately. I've forgotten all the other ones, but all that matters is that they once existed. And they made up a beautiful, pathetic language of seduction. And drug deals, too, I'm sure.

During the summer of 1998 I had the pleasure of borrowing my friend's beeper when he went on vacation for two weeks. I used the device to steal his girlfriend by responding to her "911" messages and paging her with clever little messages that were so confusing she had to call me so I could explain them to her. That's actually a pretty impressive accomplishment, one that the kids of today will never be able to match, what with their iBerries, sexting and Facespaces. I challenge you, young'ns: The next time you decide to violate your friendship to seduce a woman, try it by texting only numbers. If you can pull it off, both J.J. and I would be proud.

Oh, and by the way when my friend came back from vacation I gave him back that pager and the girl stopped talking to both of us because things had gotten too awkward. We all turned the page, as it were.

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