Dear person who lived next to Kris Friendly in Harkness at Connecticut College during the fall semester of 1989,
I’m sorry for calling you at 2:30 in the morning on a Tuesday and asking you to knock on Kris’s door and tell him he had an important call.
It was not an important call. In fact, as I believe he told you when you did go and knock on his door, my friend Amy and I had been calling him repeatedly for the past half hour, at first yelling “party!” over and over again, then, for some reason, simply honking into the phone like geese, until he finally took his receiver off the hook. He didn’t know our names, though. He didn’t know us at all. We were crank calling him.
I don’t know your name. You are a female, I remember from your voice. But that is all I know about you. I’d guess from the way that you sounded that you were asleep when I called. I don’t know if you maybe had someone next to you in bed at the time, another person I may have woken. (If so, and in the off chance you might still be in contact with this person, please extend my apology to him or her.) I don’t know what you look like. We might have sat next to each other at the student center the very next day, not enjoying the same soggy pizza.
Kris-whose name, by the way, I am altering so as not to have to later apologize to him for this very column-and Amy and I were all freshman that fall. What precipitated the calls, besides all the pot Amy and I had smoked that night, was a photograph of Kris in the freshman register-the “facebook” as it came to be called, a term now made so famous by the social networking website. (I’d hear my favorite name for it a couple years later, sitting around an off-campus living room, when a notorious upper-classman lothario nodded at a register on the coffee table and casually asked that someone pass him the “menu.”) The picture of Kris showed him with a beer bottle in each hand, at a table full of more empty bottles, wearing sunglasses indoors and a big drunken smile. Silly. But certainly not that big a deal.
Still, that night, after finishing the jar of mustard in the minifridge of another of our dorm-mates, we decided it was deserving of punishment. We looked up Kris’ phone number with the college’s fancy new high-tech phone system, woke him up, and started harassing him. After three or four calls we’d slipped into the honking. (Again, I have no idea why, other than: it must have been really good pot.) After five or six calls, he did what any reasonable person would do and took the phone off the hook.
Needless to say, Amy and I thought the whole episode was fall-out-of-our chairs, roll-on-the-floor, clutch-at-our-sides-gasping-for-air funny. We were especially impressed with ourselves for thinking to triangulate your phone number through the new system so as to bother Kris one last time. Admittedly, this still brings a guilty smile to my lips. But I am sorry it happened at the expense of your sleep. You were right to curse at me when you came back to hang up the phone.
Unsurprisingly, at a college of only 1,500 students, I ended up meeting Kris junior year. I’d been told many times what a very nice and smart guy he was, not at all like the image portrayed in his facebook picture. We were finally introduced by his girlfriend Becca, who’d become friends with Amy. He’d already heard the story, he’d been told it was us who’d called and honked. Amy, who’d remained one of my best friends, had already endured meeting him.
“Hey, Kris,” I said sheepishly, shaking his hand. “I’m, uhh, Dave Bry.”
His eyes shot wide. “Oh my god!” He was smiling, but obviously, and appropriately, still a little sore. “You’re a fucking asshole!”
I couldn’t disagree and I apologized and Kris was cool about it. He was as nice and smart and as different-from-his-facebook-picture as everyone had said. His mom, it turned out, had sent that picture in without telling Kris she was doing so, in the mistaken assumption that it would help him make friends. He would never forgive her, he told me. We went on to become pretty good friends ourselves, Kris and I.
You, I still have never met. But if I’m ever woken up by a crank call at 2:30 in the morning on a Tuesday, I’ll know who it is. Perhaps you’ll be honking like a goose. I’ll know I’ll deserve it.
Dave Bry is much better now.