Monday, October 09, 2006

The Night I Called Sexy...

I’ve been wondering when I should post this. Now seems like as good of a time as any. I’m sure most of you that attended ORU with me are already familiar with this story, but I still think it’s worth telling.

My Freshman year of college was an interesting one. It was a developmental time for me.
Moving from Wisconsin, where I had lived all my life, all the way down to Tulsa was a pretty big deal. I had never seen the campus before the day I moved in. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the “unusual” architecture of Oral Roberts University, it’s certainly something to see. The primary materials are gold glass, lots and lots of gold glass, and white concrete. The architect decided to avoid right angles when he designed the campus layout and the buildings. Four of the dorms are round towers. The primary classroom center doesn’t have a right angle in it, they are all 45’s (there are a few inverted right angles). Since the layout of the campus doesn’t have any right angles either, none of the sidewalks lead directly to anywhere. You have to make several turns, no matter where you are going. The campus centers around the “Prayer Tower” which is a 200 ft. tower that could be likened to the Seattle Space Needle, if the Needle had been made out of gold glass and had a torch burning at the top.

I was at a stage in my life where it was very difficult for me to fit in. Not that the other students treated me poorly, I just didn’t really see why anyone would want to be my friend. Things had not gone well at my last high school. Fortunately, I wound up on a dorm wing that was made up of really funny and goofy guys. It was perfect. It really made my transition into college much easier.

That wing was called Shekinah. It was the oldest wing on campus. I believe I moved onto the wing during its 26th year. A lot of wings change names every few years or so, but not us. Shekinah has always been made up of misfits, and we gloried in it. We weren’t cool, but we sure had a lot of fun.

There were several upperclassmen that really made that first year for me. The wing was lead by the “Grand Master of Lore.” The Grand Master upholds all of the wing’s sacred traditions. His name was Skooter. Skooter was finishing up his bachelor’s degree. He was on lucky year number six. Every night at hall meeting, Skooter had special awards that he would hand out to wingmates for the week. You may have heard of this tradition on other wings at ORU, it started with Shekinah. Then there were two Juniors that assisted him: Mark and Geno. Mark was a tall, lanky fellow with a tiny patch of silver hair right on the top of his head. It was quite the contrast from his otherwise black hair. We frequently likened it to a skunk. Geno was Mexican. We always told him that he was the worst Mexican ever; he didn’t speak Spanish, and he couldn’t swim (yes, I know that’s offensive). He barely passed his swimming proficiency test his senior year.

Geno had a record at the school for troublemaking. One year, he and a few other guys went through our entire dorm(EMR, also known as “The Rock” because it’s built like a prison) and stole every shower head. Well, as it turns out, taking the head off of every shower in a seven floor, tri-winged dorm, changes the back pressure in the pipes. It changes it a lot. Some pipes broke. When they came looking for a culprit, Geno was caught rather swiftly. (Here’s a little FYI for you, if you ever steal 85 shower heads, don’t “hide” them in your dorm room.) Fortunately, one of his partners was a baseball player, so he didn’t get kicked out.

Being burned for a past transgression didn’t slow Geno down. We still had fun, some of it on the “dangerous” side. Geno and I used to make a lot of prank calls. He had a speaker phone that we would use, and sometimes the guys would come into the room and just listen to us prank girls. We had several routines worked out. We had a lot of time on our hands back then.

A classic, was to take advantage of the three-way call option that the university had provided us. We would pick two people that we knew didn’t get along; for example, a boyfriend and girlfriend that had just broken up. Then we would call the girl, usually late at night. As soon as she would answer, we would say, “hey, oh no, hold on I’ve got another call.” Then we would use the third party option and switch over and call her ex-boyfriend. As soon as he picked the phone up, we would switch back to the girl’s call.

His phone rang, her phone rang, they both thought that the other called. We would quietly listen to the two confused callers on our speaker phone. You could even say it was the advent of reality entertainment. Sometimes it was a little brutal, but I’m kind of a dick, so it was entertaining. Oftentimes they would never actually figure out what happened.

We would go through the student directory and call freshman girls. They were always fun. We would tell them that Geno couldn’t sleep and that his mother used to sing him to sleep. He really missed home, and he really missed his mother. So, could she please sing him a song? C’mon, just sing the boy a song. Just one song.

Few girls would sing him a song. We would chide them, call them heartless. How could she be serving God and be so heartless at the same time? They would try and pass us off on their roommate. Some would just get pissed. The pissed-off ones would read out of the Bible at us. We usually listened, because it was funny. Entertainment, was after all, the reason we were calling.

When we would run out of routines and ideas, when we had called every freshman with a funny name ( my apologies miss Lovelace, I think we called you many times) in the entire directory several times, we would call words. Every phone number on campus was a four digit extension, since all phones have an alphanumeric keypad we could call four letter words that were humorous, at least to us anyway. That is when the trouble really began.

It was all pretty harmless, nothing obscene. We might call the number 5477, because it spelled “kiss.” Then we would ask the party on the line if they would please just give us a kiss. It was incredibly juvenile, but once again, it was harmless.
We eventually got bored. Our calls nearly ceased all together. “Nearly,” being the key word. Were it “entirely,” we might have found ourselves in a much better situation. However, such is not the case. It had been months since we had made a call. It was late, after hall meeting, and we were all bored. The guys said, “Hey, let’s make a call.” I said, “Ok. Who should we call?” We all gathered around the phone in Geno’s room. I don’t know who suggested it first, but it was unanimous once it was suggested, “sexy, let’s call sexy.” I quickly complied. I dialed 7-3-9-9. It rang, she answered.

“Is sexy there?” I asked.

“Uh, no.” She said.

I hung up. I called back.

“Is sexy there?” I asked.

“Just a minute, I’ll get her.” She said.

“This is sexy!” Said a rather bitter, angry voice, “And I have caller ID. I’ll see you in the Dean of Men’s office tomorrow.”

Before we hung up, she told us our extension just so we knew that she really did have caller ID. We were all confused. How did some chick on campus have caller ID? It was a service that wouldn’t become available on campus for three more years. But obviously she did, because she knew our extension. “Oh, well,” we decided, “some chick isn’t going to go to the Dean of Men over a prank call. It’s not like we were breathing heavy into the phone or anything. Besides, prank calls happen all of the time.” We decided the best thing to do, would be just to forget about it. Yeah, that would solve everything.

So the next day, I bumped into Geno on my way to class. His eyes were wide and his skin was pale, which was unusual for Geno. When he finally spoke, he sounded ill. “Mac, you won’t believe who we called.” I just stared at him. “Who?”

“Lindsay Roberts.”

I was stunned. He had to be wrong. It wasn’t even a possibility. It was statistically impossible for us to have picked up the phone one time, and dialed “SEXY,” one time, and that one time, that same one time, have gotten the wife of the President of our University. “The first lady” as she liked to be called.

This was trouble, and we knew it. If you wanted to hop on the superhighway of getting screwed, fired, expelled, missing, etc., everyone knew that all you had to do was piss of Lindsay.

For the unfamiliar, I should explain about the dear First Lady and current Vice President of Oral Roberts University.

I have never seen Lindsay smile naturally. Actually, she rarely smiles at all; but when she does, it’s this evil Grinch-like smile that makes you very nervous. It seems like she is always just on the other side of some incredible spiritual battle, some attack from Satan. She thinks the most fashionable color you can wear is black, with wear a rather garrish gold rope, or belt or anything else gold colored around her waist. She had a high screeching voice. She would constantly strive for the “shock effect” with her audiences. She liked to play games with words like “hell.”

If your audience was the Oral Roberts student body, shocking them was not a difficult thing. For two years straight, Richard and Lindsay Roberts both, had an odd infatuation with the word, “hell.” They would use it all of the time. “Beat the Hell out, get the Hell out, rip the Hell out. If you’re going through Hell, don’t stop.”

I remember the time when she was cruising on through one of her sermons and she paused to employ one of her famous this-doesn’t-make-sense-but-it-might-shock-you-so-I’m-using-it-anyway analogies. “You may have heard of a little movie called, The Best Little Whore house in Texas, well the best little whore house may be in Texas; but God’s power is still in the church today!” We all just looked at one another in confusion. It was a strange, random, nonsensical thing to say, even for Lindsay.

Lindsay hated “the world,” and would constantly bash it. One of her famous sermons, after the actual word “hell,” was becoming repetitive, even for her, she switched to the very clever, “what in the ‘L’ do you want?” The “L” being the difference between the “Word” and the “World.” It was just silly.

Lindsay wore jewelry. Lots of it. She wore earrings and rings and watches, and bracelets. But her ears were the only thing she had pierced. She would constantly harp on people who were trying to look like “the World.” This meant anyone who looked different than “normal” people was trying to emulate “the World.”

Perhaps we should have been trying to emulate her. She and her sister-in-law Cheryl (pronounced with a very hard CH sound, and don’t you forget it), Miss America 1982, designed clothes for Cheryl’s boutique. Most of the clothes looked like they had found some abandoned clothes warehouse from the 1980's, splashed the garments with glue and thrown them in a dryer full of sequins. Cherlaine’s was the boutique you would want to shop if you wanted to dress in a style I like to call “TBN Eccentricatta.” Its’ very chic.

Lindsay would constantly bash piercings, tattoos, “odd” hair coloring. Usually, if something bothers Lindsay enough, it will eventually turn into one of two things: either a Biblical doctrine, or a new rule at school. Everyone knew she was a force to be reckoned with.

And we had just pissed her off, big time.

There is no way I can list all of the employees and students that have felt Lindsay’s wrath. It is far too long. Athletic center employees, those guys that moved furniture around ORU, TV workers, Bill Schuler, Community Outreach (the request to start a dance outreach was denied one week before Rock the House was unveiled), really anyone that came into contact with her was in danger. We didn’t just come into contact with her, I called her!

The deans started calling everyone in to the offices that had been in the room when I made the call. I met with all of the deans: the Assistant Dean of Men, the Dean of Men, and finally the Dean of Students. They were very stern. There was a lot of staring down involved. We couldn’t even lie, since the very first student called in cracked like an egg.

If you are ever called into the Dean’s Office, there is a very simple formula you must follow: Deny, Deny, Deny. You think because they are “Christians” that they won’t use every device possible to extract the truth from you? If you do, you’re stupid. They will lie, cajole, manipulate, and do anything else they see fit to break you

Several days passed while we sweated. I was there on a full scholarship. That was a lot of money to lose over a 15 second phone call. Know one knew what was going to happen to us.

Two days later, Lindsay happened to be preaching. My freshman year, I still attended most chapels. That was before I started writing my own doctor’s notes. It was also before I had met the lovely, lovely Nurse Sally. God bless that woman.

So there we were, listening to Lindsay ramble on. It was actually the first of two infamous “Yahoo” chapels. For the time being, I won’t expound on the “Yahoo” message, but for those of you that were there, you know how ridiculous and sad it turned out to be. Like most of her sermons, it seemed to drag on forever and we just waited for it to end. Finally she began to wrap things up. I looked at my watch, five more grating minutes to go.

Then she paused, and changed course.

“So I had to change my phone number the other day. Let me tell you, that’s a chore.”

What was she doing? ORU had a rather strict policy against mentioning pranks in chapel because it only encouraged them. But here she was, on NATIONAL television, mentioning it. Not just some prank, but MY prank.

“My phone number was 7399, do you know what that spells?”

Well many wings had heard about it already, so they knew exactly what it spelled. I shuddered as several wings shouted out “SEXY!”

“That’s right, sexy. So then the prank phone calls began. But the other day I caught him. So what do we do with a person like this?”

A person “like this?!” It wasn’t “a person like this.” It was me. I felt a little sick. Everything seemed to slow down.

“Do we boot him? No! I need people like this. Let’s look at what we have here: he’s got excellent phone skills, a great vocabulary, and ingenious mind. I can use him!”

While I was a little relieved to hear that she had no intention of expelling me, I was a little confused by her description of my prank.

When all was said and done, I was fined fifty dollars and had to write a rather groveling letter of apology. I didn’t lose my scholarship, and they never called my parents. To this day, I have not spoken to Lindsay since, nor do I have any idea of how she ever intended to “use” probably the only boy that has ever called her “Sexy.”
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