Not all of my stories about my friend “Bud” took place at the shore. In fact there’s even a nice, heartwarming Christmas story involving him. So here it is, “A Christmas Story”, starring “Bud”.
In the mid to late 90’s there would always be that one “hot” toy that everyone wanted for Christmas and it would sell out by Black Friday weekend.
There would be videos of people stampeding over each other and committing assaults to get this specific toy each year and then stories of how a black market had popped up for this toy at ridiculously marked up prices.
It changed each year from Beanie Babies to Tickle Me Elmo to Furbys. What didn’t change was how desperate people were to get them.
So one year, I think it was the Tickle Me Elmo year, I had an idea. I thought, “If parents really wanted that toy, and had a phone number to call to get that toy after it sold out, I bet that number would be pretty popular.”
So I printed up some fliers and put them up at ATMs at some local malls that said this:
TICKLE ME ELMO!!
CALL BUD BETWEEN 6-10 IN THE EVENINGS AT
(BUD’S HOME PHONE #)
I also added some nice tear away phone numbers at the bottom of the flier for people that didn’t have a pen with them.
I told a few friends and we were all dying to hear how he was reacting but we hadn’t heard a thing.
Fearing the joke had failed as we sat around the old Cunninghams in Conshohocken (Baggattaways now) we got a girl to use her phone and call him.
She went outside for a minute and came back inside looking a bit shaken.
Me, “Well? Did it work? Do you think he’s getting the phone calls?”
Girl, “Oh it worked. I have never heard a human being so angry and scream so many different curse words at me in 30 seconds.”
“I simply asked for Bud and told him I was calling about the Tickle Me Elmos and he exploded, ‘I DO NOT HAVE ANY G-D TICKLE ME ELMO’S YOU $&@KING #%&*@!! NOW STOP CALLING ME YOU …’ And he got even more profane so I hung up.”
Now I’d like to tell you I stopped doing this after the one Christmas, but really what’s Christmas without its yearly traditions?
Since it was so funny the first year, I did it again the next year with Furbys…
And then the following year with Hollywood Barbie…
And then the following year with Beanie Babies…
Think I finally stopped after 5-6 years and by that point there were at least 5 of us putting up flyers at different malls all around the area.
I’ll always remember Bud sitting next to me at the bar one year at Christmas time 3-4 years into this. He shook his head bitterly and said, “Y’know, sometimes I just don’t know…”
I figure he’s going to complain about his usual gripes: women, people in general or the government…
Me, “What’s that Bud?” and as I drank down a large sip of beer and he says,
“Every F@XKING year I get these phone calls for these G-D toys. I must be a digit or two off of an 800 number or something…”
I literally spit up half of my beer on the bar.