Mary Jean “Lily” Tomlin was born September 1, 1939, in Detroit, Michigan. Ironically, that was the 51st anniversary of the groundbreaking day that Emma Nutt became the first female telephone operator in the United States. Even odder, Lily Tomlin went on to create one of her most memorable characters, Ernestine the telephone operator, in 1970 while performing in Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Coincidence? To celebrate Lily, Emma, and Ernestine, why not make a phone call in their honor today? Not sure who to call or what to say? Here are some ideas to get you started. Tell them Ernestine sent you!
Tattoo Parlor—Ask if they can do realistic portraits of dead people. Hold back the sobs as you tell them your mother just died. Ask how fast they can get to the Chesterfield Funeral Home, Chapel A.
Secretary of the Navy—Tell them you’re from the Nebraska Coast Guard. You saw the used aircraft carrier on eBay. Ask if they can have it trucked to Omaha, since you’re landlocked.
University of Texas Campus Security—Ask if you can open carry a scimitar and crossbow on campus. Consider using a TracFone for this one.
McDonalds—Ask if they sell hamburgers.
American Red Cross—Tell them you’re an arsonist who just got out of prison. It’s been a long, dry spell and you’re ready to let it rip. You want them to be prepared when you hit that hotel tonight. Refuse to tell them which hotel. Consider a courtesy call to the local fire departments, too. Be sure to use a TracFone for this one. Or, get back at your mother-in-law and make the call from her phone. Pretend to be horrified when your husband calls to tell you mom is at FBI headquarters.
Bed Bath Beyond—Ask them what the “beyond” is. Tell them you’re Hindu and find the reference to reincarnation offensive. Suggest rebranding to Bed Bath Beyoncé to increase sales.
Cheez Whiz Hotline—Tell them you dressed your boyfriend in a Cheez Whiz thong but the photo’s too large to upload to his Instagram account. Can they help you compress it? Reassure them that you have used so much Cheez Whiz that no pubic hairs show.
Water Park—Use affected speech, over-emphasizing “F” and “Sh.” Tell them you’re Dr. Oz. Ask them why they use chlorine in the water given that urine is sterile.
Local Synagogue—Tell them you’re a chef inventing a version of turducken for Super Bowl 2017. You’re filling Hebrew National Hot Dogs with Vienna Sausages and stuffing them into bratwurst. Given the Holocaust, would Jewish people find this offensive?
NASA—Tell them you’ve read how zero-gravity reduces muscle mass. Ask how astronauts have sex if they’re weak. Threaten to jeopardize the colonization of Mars if they don’t pay you in unmarked $20 bills.
Massage Parlor—Tell them your boyfriend’s out of town and you pulled your glute at the gym. Usually, he massages it for you. Ask if they do glute massages. Then express your concern that when your boyfriend massages your glutes, you tend to moan. Really loudly. Give them an example. Get all “When Harry Met Sally” on them. Tell them you can “try” to keep it down but you’re not sure how much you can control yourself. Give them varying decibel ranges of moaning to see how loud you can get before you disturb the other patrons.
Pottery Barn—Tell them you’re a chemistry professor. Or, tell them you work for Tampax. Ask if they sell periodic tables.
Ace Hardware—Tell them you need some items for the weekend and you want to make sure they have what you need before you drive over. Heavy duty rubber gloves. Contractor trash bags. Quick ties. A shovel. Hacksaw blades strong enough to cut through bone.
Local Carpet Cleaning Company—Ask if they have emergency services. You’re happy to pay whatever it costs before your wife gets home and freaks out. Can they get blood out of a white carpet? In your basement. Lots of blood. Who knew how much blood there would be?
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute—Ask them who they’re voting for in November.
Taco Bell—Tell them you read they use Chihuahua in their tacos. Senor Pepe died and you’re wondering if you could donate his remains. Reassure them he’s fresh; you’ve kept him on ice since his death an hour ago.
Embassy of Burkina Faso—Tell them you’re appalled that the French tried to ban burkinis on the beach. Tell them how your no good, two-timing girlfriend cheated on you with a French dude. Offer pro bono marketing help to sell burkinis, targeting the French Riviera.
Spam Hotline—Tell them you got your first computer and you’ve heard about problems with Spam. You’re an educated consumer. Tell them you made the guys at Geek Squad open your computer so you could check and make sure they were selling you a clean machine. Let the Spam folks know that you took pictures and have filed them with your attorney. Let them know you will SUE if your computer becomes infected with Spam.
Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blogwww.PotatoNationUSA.com. She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.